HRM to require employee vaccination, CBRM to demand masks, tests for unvaccinated

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The clock is now ticking for municipal employees in Halifax to get vaccinated against COVID-19. HRM announced Thursday workers must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15. (CBC - image credit)
The clock is now ticking for municipal employees in Halifax to get vaccinated against COVID-19. HRM announced Thursday workers must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15. (CBC - image credit)

The Halifax Regional Municipality has reversed a previous decision not to require COVID-19 vaccinations of its employees.

The city said earlier this week that vaccination would not be mandatory for its workers.

But on Thursday morning, a news release from the municipality said it is now preparing a mandatory vaccination policy for employees that will require them to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15.

The news release said the decision was made in light of an announcement from the province Wednesday that 11,000 provincial employees will have to be double-vaccinated by Nov. 30.

The municipality said any city employees who are not fully vaccinated by Dec. 15 will "face employment consequences, including unpaid administrative leave, unless they have received an employer-approved exemption."

All new staff will also be required to be fully vaccinated.

No mandatory vaccines for CBRM staff

Cape Breton Regional Municipality is taking a different approach.

Chief administrative officer Marie Walsh said when the province fully enters Phase 5 and lifts masking restrictions, CBRM staff who are not completely vaccinated will have to continue wearing a mask and submit to regular testing.

"There will be no mandatory vaccinations, and that's why we'll have to put in certain protocols to make sure that staff are safe and that people coming in are safe," she said.

"I really don't believe in the mandatory vaccinations for all staff. For some people, depending on the job that they do, it should be required, but there are some people that for whatever reason, for health or otherwise, are not comfortable or can't get vaccinated, and I just don't think that their job should be at risk because they can't get vaccinated."

Tom Ayers/CBC
Tom Ayers/CBC

Walsh said the same protocols will apply to all municipal employees, including those in the public, such as transit drivers and police.

"We're going to have the same rules for everyone, so if you are a transit operator and you are not vaccinated, you will be required ... to be regularly tested and to wear a mask," she said.

Walsh said the provincial government has not given CBRM any direction on what its policy should be.

She said administration has the authority to set the protocols, but staff are working on a formal policy that will be brought to council for ratification, once the legal department has provided advice.

"Currently, everybody is wearing a mask, because the province are requiring everybody to wear a mask in public, so once that's lifted, then we will put those protocols in place."

CBRM told staff about its proposed protocols last month, when it became clear the province was heading towards Phase 5.

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