B.C. ending COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public service, but not health-care workers

A person draws out Moderna vaccine during a drive through COVID-19 vaccine clinic at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont., on Sunday Jan. 2, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

As of April 3, workers in British Columbia’s public service will no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a Friday media release, the Ministry of Finance said the decision to rescind the policy was based on a high level of vaccination among the public service, where more than 98 per cent of workers have been immunized.

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Health-care workers, however, will still need to be vaccinated.

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The ministry said the COVID-19 policy will remain in place for people working in settings with provincial health officer orders or other vaccination requirements.

“Vaccine mandates remain in highest-risk settings where the most vulnerable live and are cared for. This includes facilities in the health-care system,” the ministry said.

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B.C. implemented the mandatory vaccine policy for the public service in November 2021.

Its removal will mean that what he province called a “small number of employees on administrative leave due to non-compliance” will be able to return to the workplace.

The B.C. Public Service agency said a total of 314 employees were terminated for non-compliance and approximately175 workers were currently on unpaid leave under the policy.

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“People who were terminated while the policy was in place can reapply for employment and would be considered new hires,” it said in an email.

It also means contractors and other non-employees will be able to enter public service workplaces.

The province continues to recommend up-to-date COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees.

As of Thursday, there were 205 positive cases of COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals, including 18 people in critical care.

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