B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner says in some circumstances, there can be a proof-of-vaccination requirement, but only if less intrusive means of preventing COVID-19 transmission in a given setting are inadequate.
In guidance released on Tuesday morning, Kasari Govender said consideration would have to be given to the human rights of everyone involved.
“Upholding individual rights while acting collectively to protect one another has been a challenge through the pandemic,” Govender said.
“We must maintain a careful balance between the rights of people who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine due to a personal characteristic protected in B.C.’s Human Rights Code and individual and collective rights to health and safety.”
When asked whether the province would consider requiring vaccinations for long-term care staff following the human rights guidance, Health Minister Adrian Dix said recent changes to visitation will put additional pressure on staff to get immunized.
“What will happen in B.C. is we expect every care worker to be vaccinated. If it is not the case, that there will be consequences for that, and those consequences will include other steps may need to be taken to ensure infection control,” Dix said.
“We expect everyone to be vaccinated. That is why we are making such an extraordinary effort here in Richmond and across B.C. to raise the level of dose one immunizations. Over 80 per cent now in the adult population.”
The human rights commissioner released the guidance on Tuesday as many businesses, employers and service providers are considering “vaccination status policies.”
This could include the requirement for employees to provide proof of vaccination to access their place of employment, housing and other services.
Govender recommended vaccine status policies adhere to six main principles: Equitable access, evidence-based, time limited, proportional to the health risk, necessary and minimally intrusive.
The guidance also states no one’s safety should be put at risk because of other people’s personal choices not to receive a vaccine, and no one should experience harassment or discrimination when there are effective alternatives to vaccination status policies.
“For those considering implementing a vaccine status policy, it important to ensure such policies do
not violate people’s human rights, particularly the rights of those without equal access to the vaccine,” Govender said.
“That said, while not mandatory in most contexts, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is an important way we can all help keep each other—especially the most marginalized and medically vulnerable people among us—as safe as possible.”View link »