B.C.'s healthcare COVID vaccine mandate could be made permanent

Mandate may be permanent

B.C. healthcare workers sidelined by the COVID-19 vaccine mandate will not be returning to work any time soon.

In fact, it is possible that they never will be.

On the same day that the provincial government lifted the vaccine mandate for its BC Public Service employees, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the same will not be happening in healthcare.

When asked Friday if a vaccine requirement would be permanently added to the professional contracts of healthcare workers, Henry suggested they are intending to do so.

“Yes, we are looking at how important is it to have immunization and protection of healthcare workers of each other and in healthcare settings,” she said.

“So I don’t expect that to be something that will change. We're looking at what does that mean in terms of policies and regulations within the healthcare sector.”

“I don't expect it to change either,” added Health Minister Adrian Dix.

A policy making the mandate permanent would almost certainly be challenged in the courts. Back in 2018, the Ontario Nurses Association defeated in court a “vaccinate or mask” policy for influenza in that province.

About 2,500 British Columbian healthcare workers, 900 in the Interior Health region, were terminated in 2021 for being unvaccinated for COVID-19. That was under two per cent of B.C.’s healthcare workforce.

The BC Liberal party has been calling on the government to lift the mandate. B.C. and Nova Scotia are the only two provinces to still have one in place in healthcare.

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