Saskatchewan to allow employers to ask workers for proof of vaccination

The Saskatchewan government said new regulations will allow employers to voluntarily opt in if they wish to implement a proof-of-vaccination or negative test policy for employees. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Employers in Saskatchewan outside the public service can ask employees if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when new regulations come into force on Oct. 1.

Friday is when the province implements its proof-of-vaccination policy requiring people to show they are vaccinated when entering a number of businesses, including indoor dining, bars, gyms and indoor event venues.

The province said the new regulations will allow employers to voluntarily opt in if they wish to implement a proof of vaccination or negative test policy for employees.

A negative test would have to be provided by employees at least every seven days.

A backgrounder from the province said employers need to provide reasonable notice of the policy to every employee personally, by posting it in the workplace, by posting it on a secure website accessible to employees, or by any other means that ensure the employee is notified of the policy.

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The province said employers can use a self-declaration process and are not required to collect or retain personal health information.

However, employers are required to establish a verification process for reviewing the evidence of vaccination or a negative test provided by employees, and keeping the information confidential.

The province said the Saskatchewan Employment Act provides a legal defence to employers exercising a power in good faith that is provided for in the act or by regulation, including businesses choosing to follow the new regulation — The Employers’ COVID-19 Emergency Regulations.

Employees opting to provide a negative test result must take the test during non-work hours and are responsible for all costs associated with testing, unless otherwise agreed to by the employer.

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Saskatchewan Health Authority employees

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will also begin implementation of a phased-in proof-of-vaccination policy for all employees starting on Oct. 1.

Health officials said the policy is needed due to the significant risks arising from the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant and is a necessary step in protecting the health-care team, patients and residents and preserving health-care services.

The province said the SHA is releasing more details later in the week to all health-care staff, contractors and others affected by this policy.

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Health-care workers who do not provide proof of vaccination will be required to participate in a monitored testing program at their cost, unless they have received an approved accommodation based on the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

Acceptable proof-of-vaccination certificates

The province said there are only six acceptable proof-of-vaccination forms that can be used.

One is the wallet-sized card received at the time of immunization.

Also acceptable are:

  • A printed copy of your MySaskHealthRecord (MSHR) vaccine certificate (with or without a QR code)
  • A screenshot of your MSHR vaccine certificate (with or without a QR code) saved to your device
  • An earlier version of your MSHR COVID-19 vaccine certificate
  • A COVID-19 vaccine printout from Saskatchewan Health Authority Public Health

The sixth method that is still to come is a QR code/MySaskHealthRecord vaccine certificate uploaded to SK Vax Wallet.

Businesses requiring proof of vaccination also require an ID from anyone aged 18 and older.

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Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 do not need to show ID if an adult accompanies them. Otherwise, they must show ID and if they do not have photo ID, they can use another government-issued ID such as a birth certificate or a health services card.

The province also said the issue with QR codes in vaccine records has been resolved.

Those were temporarily removed on Sept. 24 due to potential privacy concerns.

Officials said QR codes are available again and said any QR codes issued before Sept. 28 should be destroyed or deleted.

Click to play video: 'Questions around Sask’s proof-of-vaccine policy: will employees need to be vaccinated Oct. 1?'
Questions around Sask’s proof-of-vaccine policy: will employees need to be vaccinated Oct. 1?

Proof of a negative test

The SHA is no longer providing COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic individuals.

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The province said the priority is being given to individuals with COVID-19 symptoms.

The SHA is also providing testing to anyone identified as a close contact, having had a positive rapid antigen test, being identified as part of an outbreak situation, or requiring transfer or admission to long-term care, primary care, social services or intensive care units.

Officials said self-administered take-home rapid antigen tests will not be accepted as valid proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The province said individuals requiring a negative test result have several private options on the market that will provide a rapid antigen test or a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for a fee.

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