The B.C. government is requiring its 30,000 public servants to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22, the day when those working from home must return to government offices.
Public service employees working in core government services or ministries will be required to provide proof of full vaccination — two shots — via their B.C. Vaccine Card. This applies to direct employees of the provincial government and does not include employees of Crown corporations, commissions, independent officers, or many other government-funded agencies.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix applauded the move by the Public Service Agency on Tuesday saying being vaccinated is an essential life and health saving action.
“This step by the public service shows the dedication and commitment to support the provincial effort to protect people and get through the pandemic,” Dix said.
The Public Service Agency said the November date gives employees who are not yet fully vaccinated time to comply.
Accommodations will be made for the “few” who can’t comply.
The agency said it is finalizing details of how to deal with employees who do not comply and don’t have legitimate grounds for an exemption. Personal preference is not considered a legitimate reason to provide an accommodation, it said.
“Refusing to comply with the proof of vaccination policy by Nov. 22 may lead to employment consequences up to and including termination,” the province said in a statement.
The original requirement for employees to return to work or have a telework agreement approved was set for mid-October, but was delayed to Nov. 22.
Paul Finch, treasurer of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, said it will study the directive’s impact on members.
Finch said the union has always encouraged members to be vaccinated, adding: “We were out front fighting for a masks mandate when one was not in place in the province.”
The union was not consulted on the vaccination requirement, he said.
“Across the civil service, there’s no mask mandate inside the offices, and so while we acknowledge that vaccination is the number one best form of defence when it comes to dealing with COVID, we believe that instituting a mask policy inside offices … should also accompany any other measures,” Finch said.
Eighty-one per cent of eligible British Columbians have been fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.