Bus drivers and vaccinations

I am writing concerning the bus transportation system in the Okanagan.

A huge number of (residents) rely on bus transportation to get to work, shopping, medical appointments and numerous other things. It is a very important part of daily living and the mental health of the community.

I (read) an MLA is supporting of keeping gyms open. Where is the support for keeping the bus system running on its complete and daily schedules? B.C. Transit has a vaccination mandate for employees, causing the bus system operator (First Transit) to reduce its schedule's and cause people to find other ways to get to appointments, school and work. This has caused a mental strain on not just the community, but on the drivers as well.

A lot of the drivers who were put on leave are not anti-vaxxers. A lot have valid reasons at this moment not to receive their shots. What bothers me the most is there is no reason for these people not to be working.

As stated in news reports, (provincial health officer Dr.) Bonnie Henry said the reason for the mandate was to protect people in their jobs so businesses would not go under due to employees getting sick and to protect those in the work place.

WCB ruled bus drivers were protected against Covid from riders—even those not wearing masks,—due to measures the bus system put in place. Driver doors (shields) were installed, there is mandatory mask wearing for customers (even though a lot don't wear them) and there is daily sanitizing of buses. There were no huge outbreaks in the bus system with the workers before the mandatory issue.

There are numerous bus systems across the country that allow their workers to work without the vaccine. The WCB states if there are no serious outbreaks, then the least invasive measures must be applied first. Again, other bus systems are using weekly testing to keep their drivers working and the system running. Our bus drivers should be allowed to work in order to maintain the mental safety of the community.

When a government agency deems it is safe for a worker to work without the vaccination, how is it a company can go against such a ruling?

Heather Taylor

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