Northland Utilities is giving employees $1K to get vaccinated. What are other N.W.T. businesses doing?

·2 min read
Employees for Northland Utilities will be given $1,000 bonuses by parent company ATCO if they get fully vaccinated. (Hilary Bird/CBC - image credit)
Employees for Northland Utilities will be given $1,000 bonuses by parent company ATCO if they get fully vaccinated. (Hilary Bird/CBC - image credit)

As the N.W.T. government prepares to develop a mandatory vaccine plan for government workers, CBC asked other employers how they're handling vaccinations among staff.

Staff at Northland Utilities who get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will receive $1,000 bonuses being offered by parent company ATCO.

In a statement to CBC, ATCO Frontec president Jim Landon, who is in charge of ATCO's overall pandemic response, said the company believes vaccines are key to keeping communities and the company safe.

"The incentive is a way to thank those who have already been fully vaccinated and to encourage others to complete their vaccinations as soon as possible," Landon said.

Smaller Yellowknife businesses that spoke with CBC said they have too few employees to worry about offering incentives — many of them had fully vaccinated staff members already.

Pat Moore, the office manager for Office Compliments, said they have four staff members and everyone at the company has had their shots.

Sara Minogue/CBC
Sara Minogue/CBC

Out of concern for her staff and herself, though, Moore said she has been turning away customers who don't have their vaccines.

"For the safety of myself and our staff, and our other clients in here, we're asking that everyone be fully vaccinated. In fact, we're turning away some business," she said.

"I'm not putting myself, at this point in time, in harm's way when I don't have to."

Airlines eyeing federal rules

With October quickly approaching, airlines that fly through the N.W.T. are preparing to require their staff to be vaccinated.

In August, the federal government announced it expected all federal employees, and employees of federally regulated businesses such as airlines, to be vaccinated by the end of October.

Fort Smith-based Northwestern Air Lease is requiring all its staff to receive both doses. Any staff who aren't fully vaccinated by Oct. 31 will be laid off.

Air Tindi
Air Tindi

James Heidema, the chief operating officer for the airline, told CBC they're following the federal government's lead.

"On a personal note, I think it's an appropriate thing to do," he said, given the worldwide effects of COVID-19.

"The vaccine is part of the measures, along with wearing masks, to get ahead of this."

For Air Tindi employees, vaccines aren't being mandated yet.

But President Chris Reynolds said the company is "strongly promoting" vaccines for employees, but is waiting on guidance from Transport Canada before it forces staff to get vaccinated.

Reynolds said the company does have a few employees who aren't vaccinated, but that number is low.

Major airlines including Air Canada and Westjet have already announced mandatory vaccine policies for all employees.

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