N.B. rotational workers disheartened after sudden change to isolation rules

·2 min read
Adrian Cornect lives in Hampton and works in northern Ontario. (Submitted by Adrian Cornect - image credit)
Adrian Cornect lives in Hampton and works in northern Ontario. (Submitted by Adrian Cornect - image credit)

When Adrian Cornect managed to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, he turned down shifts at his work site in northern Ontario and scrambled to book a last-minute flight to New Brunswick.

The $1,800 ticket and lost work hours meant he would soon be able to easily see his family after months of restrictions keeping them apart.

But, two days after getting the shot, the rules changed again.

"People are frustrated," Cornect said. "We're being pointed out as rotational workers."

New Brunswick had announced loosened restrictions for rotational workers and prioritized them for the vaccine, allowing them to avoid self-isolation 14 days after receiving a first dose.

Public Health reversed that decision on Friday. Now, all rotational workers, including those who are vaccinated, must self-isolate for a full two weeks, away from others.

Many rotational workers have been calling for testing to reduce self-isolation over the past few months. Truck drivers and regular cross-border commuters are under less-restrictive rules, which allow for modified isolation with their household.

Cornect goes back and forth between his home in Rothesay and work at Abitibi Canyon in northern Ontario.

Rotational workers must now self-isolate for 14 days, even if they've been vaccinated.
Rotational workers must now self-isolate for 14 days, even if they've been vaccinated.(Shane Ross/CBC)

Under self-isolation rules, his wife has to leave the house and move in with her parents during visits home.

"There is a breaking point and the breaking point is very near," he said.

"The government has to realize people have families. It's not everybody that has a job in New Brunswick they can go home every night to."

'We've all done our part'

Sean Hudson lives in Hampton and works as the flight operations co-ordinator at Baffin Iron Mines in Nunavut. He works three weeks on and three weeks off and called the change "disheartening."

"I thought life could go back to somewhat normal where I could see the family and now even with my vaccine, I'll have to go two weeks without seeing them," he said.

The mine site frequently tests employees and has stringent COVID-19 protocols in place.

Hudson said the vaccine was a "glimmer of hope" for being able to spend time with his three young children. He's holding off to tell them about the rule change and hoping things will change before his rotation ends.

"We've all done our part to stay safe and keep people and safe and I have no issue doing that — but I'd just like it to be fair," he said. "For some reason the rotational workers have been demonized."