Photo: Times Colonist/Darren Stone
About 190,000 healthcare workers were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under a provincial health order.
British Columbia is sticking to its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for public servants and healthcare workers, even though the federal government has suspended its two-shot requirement for federally regulated workers and travellers.
British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix said he continues to support both last year’s provincial health order requiring all health care workers in hospitals, long-term care homes and community health centers to be vaccinated, as well as the Order in Council that made vaccination a condition of employment for public service employees.
“I wouldn’t expect any changes to the mandates anytime soon,” Dix said in an interview Monday.
Last week, BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon called on the BC government to follow Ottawa’s lead and suspend vaccine requirements for provincial employees and construction workers. health.
“British Columbia is out of step with the rest of the country in this regard,” Falcon said. “We now have a situation that simply warrants the immediate lifting of the vaccine mandate.”
Falcon said the requirement for vaccines is exacerbating the critical shortage of healthcare workers that has led to the temporary closure of emergency rooms in rural communities on the island as well as in northern and interior health authorities. .
About 190,000 healthcare workers — including about 50,000 in long-term care — had to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under a provincial health order. About 99% were vaccinated and the rest lost their jobs for not having done so.
The BC Public Service Agency required its 30,000 employees to be fully vaccinated. As of April 20, according to the report, 402 employees were unvaccinated or refusing to disclose their vaccination status as required by the COVID-19 vaccination policy, and about 150 had lost their jobs.
The agency said Monday that its vaccination policy remains in place, with nearly 99% of employees fully vaccinated. “As the pandemic is not over and its trajectory remains uncertain, the BC Public Service believes it is prudent to retain the vaccination policy.”
Falcon said around 2,500 healthcare workers and other public service employees are being sidelined ‘at a time when the healthcare system, in the prime minister’s own words, is crumbling and teetering’ .
Dix said the feds seem to want to rescind both vaccination mandates, “but I don’t agree with them.”
The health minister said the problem was not mandates but COVID-19, which continues to deeply affect the health system. He said there was a need to protect residents of long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities, as well as patients in acute care facilities and the healthcare system as a whole.
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