Delta council will consider Monday whether or not to require proof of vaccination for all City of Delta employees and volunteers.
A draft policy up for discussion Monday afternoon (Nov. 8) would require all city employees and volunteers to show proof of full vaccination effective Jan. 10, 2022. Accommodation requests for those who are unable to be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons or for reasons that are protected under human rights legislation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Employees who are not vaccinated would be required to participate in a screening process involving testing at regular intervals. Non-compliance with the policy would lead to an unpaid leave of absence and could include discipline up to and including the termination of employment, according to a staff report to council.
The report notes that the city’s human resources department has spoken with both CUPE Local 454 and Delta Firefighters Association (IAFF Local 1763) regarding the policy and that both unions understand the need for a policy and support testing as an option for those who are not vaccinated and are not willing to be vaccinated.
The move, if approved, would be the latest in a series of proof of vaccination requirements approved by council and implemented by the city.
On Sept. 20, council endorsed a staff recommendation that proof of vaccination be required for all programs at seniors’ recreation centres. Later, at a special meeting on Oct. 14, council voted to require proof of vaccination for all patrons aged 12 and older wishing to access drop-in and registered programs run by the city at all Delta recreation centres.
“Both these requirements exceed the requirements set out in the BC Provincial Health Officer’s orders but were endorsed to further reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in Delta facilities as well as to add an additional incentive for unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated,” the report states.
The federal and provincial governments have both implemented vaccination policies for employees, as have several municipalities.
On Oct. 6, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced a vaccine mandate for all 267,000 federal public servants. The mandate includes all departmental staff, as well as the RCMP, Correctional Services of Canada staff and the Canada Border Services Agency, and came into effect Oct. 29.
Freeland said that staff who do not declare their vaccination status will be put on unpaid administrative leave as of Nov. 15.
The B.C. government previously mandated all long-term care and assisted living facility staff must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 12, and all other health-care workers by Oct. 26.
During a press conference on Monday (Nov. 1), Health Minister Adrian Dix said that 3,325 health-care workers had been placed on unpaid leave because they are unvaccinated against COVID-19 — 587 of those in Fraser Health, equal to two per cent of health-care workers in the region.
The province is also mandating that all of its public service employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22.
Several municipalities across Canada have implemented similar vaccination requirements for staff, including Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby and West Vancouver, as has Metro Vancouver.
The report notes that “in a recent discussion involving Metro Vancouver municipalities, the majority of local municipalities have advised that they will also be pursuing vaccination policies.”
At an in-camera meeting on Oct. 12, the Delta school board directed district staff to “begin work immediately on a safety policy and/or procedure to provide, amongst other safety measures, the viability of mandatory vaccinations against SARS-CoV-2 for all staff,” according to a press release. That policy has yet to come before the board, which next meets on Dec. 7.
On Oct. 23, B.C.’s Education Ministry released new guidelines to help school boards develop COVID-19 vaccination policies, but left any final decisions up to the respective boards.
The ministry said the guidelines, which include gathering data and consultation with First Nations and employee groups, will help school boards encourage vaccination in their communities and to determine if a mandatory vaccination policy works best for them.
— with files from Katya Slepian and The Canadian Press