CUPE P.E.I. supports vaccinate-or-test policy for school system employees

·2 min read
CUPE P.E.I. president Leonard Gallant says the union is in favour of a vaccinate-or-test policy being expanded to the school system — with some modifications. (Kerry Campbell/CBC - image credit)
CUPE P.E.I. president Leonard Gallant says the union is in favour of a vaccinate-or-test policy being expanded to the school system — with some modifications. (Kerry Campbell/CBC - image credit)

The Canadian Union of Public Employees on P.E.I. says it's in favour of the government implementing a vaccinate-or-test policy for education workers.

Premier Dennis King said the province is working to introduce routine tests for staff and other employees in the Island's school system amid the latest outbreak.

The policy would be similar to the one put in place for staff in long-term care and community care facilities earlier this month.

Under those rules, workers who are not fully vaccinated have to take a COVID-19 test three times per week.

Workers' privacy

But while the union approves of the policy, it does have some concerns. Specifically, it says a requirement for there to be someone else in the room while an employee takes a test raises privacy issues.

"Right now, there doesn't seem to be any privacy because of the witness part," CUPE P.E.I. president Leonard Gallant says. "We're really concerned about that. We would prefer that the employer have a health professional do the testing."

Gallant says they hope this part of the policy is modified before it's implemented for school staff.

The Prince Edward Island Nurses' Union said it hasn't encountered any specific examples of issues regarding vaccination policies at long-term care facilities.

"[Long-term care workers] have been in tighter restrictions for the last year and a half, so they're … used to the policies and, you know, adhere to them," Gallant said. "The education system hasn't had that yet. So, you know, we'll work our way through it for sure."

The policy would impact close 1,500 of the union's members in the education system.

Gallant says the union prefers the current policy to a vaccine mandate for the time being.

"If it comes down that road, we will deal with it when it happens," he said. "But at this point, we prefer this policy."

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