Vancouver police officers can still work unvaccinated, but will have to pay for rapid tests

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Police Board goes its own way and is not requiring officers to be vaccinated'
Vancouver Police Board goes its own way and is not requiring officers to be vaccinated
In a decision that flies in the face of what most policing agencies are doing, the VPD will not have to be fully vaccinated to come to work and interact with the community. A fear of losing officers from the front lines seems to be behind the move. Those who are not double vaccinated or do not want to disclose their status will have to be rapid tested before their shifts at their own expense and on their own time – Dec 7, 2021

Neither civilian staff nor sworn officers of the Vancouver Police Department will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their employment.

All VPD employees, however, are expected to declare their vaccination status by the end of the month.

Those who do not, said Sgt. Steve Addison, will undergo regular rapid testing for the virus “at their own cost, on their own time.”

Read more: B.C. now has 5 cases of COVID Omicron variant in both vaccinated and unvaccinated

“We believe that this is the best solution for our staff, for our organization, as well as the community,” he told Global News on Tuesday.

“We’re already contending with a very busy workload. We understand that our officers are already stretched quite thin. And quite simply, we can’t afford to lose any more officers than we already have from the frontlines.”

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Click to play video: 'B.C. stays the course on booster shots'
B.C. stays the course on booster shots

The force confirmed the Vancouver Police Board’s policy decision one day after the City of Vancouver’s vaccine mandate was supposed to take effect for all its employees, including firefighters.

Police are funded by the municipality, but they were excluded from the mandate because the board employs and governs them.

Addison said rapid testing will allow officers to deploy into communities safely, although he said he expects all of them will be double-vaccinated.

“It’s the right thing to do. We’re strongly encouraging everyone to do it and it’s our expectation that they will.”

Read more: B.C. public service employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22

Other police forces in B.C., including the RCMP, West Vancouver Police Department, and the new Surrey Police Service, are also requiring their officers to be fully immunized.

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In Ontario, more than 200 members of the Toronto Police Service were placed on indefinite unpaid leave last month after its COVID-19 vaccine mandate took effect.

Addison said the VPD’s policy — a “living document” — could change, but for now, the practice is in line with provincial regulations.

It was not clear whether the department will reveal its staff vaccination rate when status declaration is complete at the end of the month.

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