Vancouver councillors support vaccine mandate for city staff even as new rules don't apply to elected officials
Multiple Vancouver councillors are showing support for the city’s new vaccine rules for staff, even as elected officials don't fall under the mandate.
The city announced Monday that all of its employees would need to be fully inoculated by Dec. 6.
However, the mandate does not affect elected city councillors and park board commissioners due to ”different legal considerations in respect of such officials,” said a representative for the city in a statement.
Coun. Pete Fry says he supports the mandate, saying it’s important given that data shows the virus is being spread mainly by unvaccinated people.
Fry was unaware he and his counterparts on council were exempt from the mandate, but added that he is already fully vaccinated.
“As far as I know, all of us are vaccinated. I'm double vaccinated and got vaccinated quite a while ago,” said Fry.
He says it’s an issue he believes the entire council takes very seriously.
“I haven't actually heard anybody on council or the mayor reflecting any kind of anti-vax sentiment,” Fry said.
Later in the day, a statement from the City of Vancouver announced it had confirmed Fry's belief: while not required to be, all councillors are already fully vaccinated.
Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung is also supportive of the policy.
“(I'm) personally proudly double vaxxed and ready to take any booster whenever it may be made available by the (provincial health officer),” wrote Kirby-Yung in an email to CTV News.
She was aware elected officials were exempt.
“I am not surprised by that as legally council are not employees, members have different status as elected representatives. Management can only set HR policies that relate to staff. The governance is very clear,” she wrote.
Kirby-Yung would like to see the city take even further action.
“I’ve been fully supportive of public health measures early on throughout the pandemic including a mask mandate in civic facilities which the majority of council voted down.”
The city says employees who do not comply with the new vaccine mandate will not be permitted in the workplace.
It has yet to specify whether they would be fired, or placed on administrative leave either with or without pay.
“If city councillors, or park board commissioners, wished to impose such a policy upon themselves, the city believes that it is better for them to approve and adopt their own policy,” said a representative for the city in a statement.
It’s a move Fry is open to.
“That's certainly something that I think this council would probably support,” he said.
The city will accommodate employees who require an exemption from the policy for medical reasons or other grounds protected under the BC Human Rights Code.
“We have a lot of frontline staff. We have a lot of staff that are working with vulnerable populations. So we do recognize this as an important imperative. But we also recognize that there are personal liberties and freedoms and medical issues that are going to play into this,” said Fry.
The full details of the policy are still being finalized.