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B.C. Nurses’ Union president resigns suddenly amid mandatory vaccine debate

Click to play video: 'B.C. Nurses’ Union opposes vaccine mandate for healthcare workers' B.C. Nurses’ Union opposes vaccine mandate for healthcare workers
The B.C. Nurses' Union is warning of a staffing crisis as the new vaccine mandate for all healthcare workers goes into force. Richard Zussman reports – Sep 14, 2021

The president of the B.C. Nurses’ Union has resigned.

The union announced Christine Sorensen’s resignation in a brief statement Monday night.

“The BC Nurses’ Union thanks Christine Sorensen for her years of dedication and service to the BCNU,” reads the statement.

Read more: COVID-19: B.C. nurses fear health-care system could ‘crash’ due to vaccine mandate for workers

“Christine Sorensen has resigned as President of the BCNU for personal reasons and to pursue other opportunities.”

Sorensen has been union president since 2017.

The resignation comes as the union faced backlash for its stance in opposition to British Columbia’s mandate requiring all health-care workers to be vaccinated by Oct. 26, or be suspended without pay.

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The union said it was encouraging all members to be vaccinated, but that those who chose not to should be able to undergo daily testing and wear additional protective equipment instead.

The decision has not been popular with all nurses, some of whom have spoken out publicly in support of the vaccine mandate.

On Saturday, Vancouver registered nurse Josanne Dubeau told Global News the union’s announcement took her by surprise.

Read more: All B.C. health-care workers must be vaccinated against COVID by Oct. 26: officials

“I was surprised by such a public announcement in the way it was framed, especially following the protests by the anti-vaxxers outside the hospital and how that demoralized the health care staff,” she said.

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“And then to have the BCNU to make that statement was very untimely. It was poor judgment.”

There are more than 40,000 nurses across British Columbia. Neither the union nor the province has official vaccination rates, but the estimates are between 90 to 95 per cent.

— with files from Richard Zussman

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