COVID-19 vaccines mandatory to access Timmins area post-secondary schools

·4 min read

Three post-secondary institutions in Timmins and the area have implemented a mandatory vaccination policy on all their campuses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collège Boréal, Université de Hearst and Northern College are mandating Canadian-approved vaccines for anyone wishing to access their campuses, offices and facilities.

The approved Canadian vaccines are currently Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

Exemptions will be made for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or other reasons recognized under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The vaccination policy across all Collège Boréal campuses will roll out in two stages. Starting Sept. 7, those wishing to access college facilities and campuses must be vaccinated with at least one dose of a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine.

The full vaccination in Collège Boréal will be required as of Oct. 15.

The Northern College's policy requires all those working, studying or visiting any of the campuses and facilities to have at least one dose of an approved vaccine by Oct. 1. Two doses will be required by Nov. 15.

According to the college’s policy, provided false attestation or documentation will be subject to disciplinary actions. That can include expulsion for students, termination for employees, voiding of contracts for contractors and removal from campus, residence or affiliated office for visitors and attendees.

As of Aug. 30, anyone wishing to access the Université de Hearst will need to be vaccinated with at least one dose. The deadline for having two doses is Oct. 12.

“I think the students understand. And the fact it’s not us that did the regulation, that it came from the government, I think people understand why it’s being done,” said Lysann Boisvert, director of communications and liaison at Université de Hearst.

Boisvert estimates the university will have 250 students this fall, 65 per cent of whom will be international students. This year, the university has about 75 new students.

In 2020, the university had a total of 200 domestic and foreign students. In 2019 and 2018, there were 222 and 165 students, respectively.

The recent survey results suggest the majority of international students view Canada as their top destination for studying.

The report from a U.K.-based IDP Connect surveyed over 4,000 international students from over 20 countries in July 2021. The data shows 71% of respondents said Canada’s clear vaccination and quarantine policies made the country more attractive for studying.

Out of the six categories, Canada scored top marks in five: the welfare of international students, policies for international students, post-study work-visa policies, the safety of citizens and visitors, and economic stability.

“International students view Canada as incredibly welcoming, and they feel the country supports their needs. Secondly, students see Canada provides to them good post-graduation work opportunity,” said IDP Connect's director of external relations Jonah Duffin. "But also it provides a good opportunity for them to work part-time while they’re studying."

The survey results show vaccine hesitancy among students has declined since the previous survey with 9 per cent of all respondents stating they need more information before being vaccinated, compared to 30 per cent in March-April this year.

Northern College has seen a 7.5 per cent increase in enrolment this year, said the college's president Audrey Penner.

She said the increase can be attributed to the college’s recruiting campaign and last year’s record of achievement.

“During the pandemic, we’re the only college that has not had an outbreak, that has not closed any programs and has not permanently laid off any staff,” she said adding that the international enrolment is quite consistent with last year.

"I don’t believe it has increased and the travel is the mitigating factor for them,” she said.

Collège Boréal is “pleased” with its recruitment efforts, said Michel Doucet, VP of corporate services at Collège Boréal.

“On average, whether it’s domestic or international students, we’re pretty much on trend from last year. We’ve noticed just a slight decrease. There is a handful of students left on the domestic side throughout all our campuses, but that’s more related to demographics than COVID."

Doucet said the college is working on a mobile app that can be used to show proof of vaccination.

The IDP Connect’s survey data also showed over 80 per cent of respondents were willing to quarantine upon their arrival rather than defer studies.

Unvaccinated international students coming to the Universté de Hearst will be quarantining for two weeks in a hotel in Hearst before they head to one of three communities where the university’s campuses are located.

“If they live in residence, they go there. If not, to their apartment,” Boisvert said. “If they can prove they’re fully vaccinated, they don’t have to do the quarantine.”

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com

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