Unvaccinated Town of Pincher Creek employees must participate in rapid screening

·3 min read

As of Jan. 17, all Town of Pincher Creek employees who are not vaccinated against Covid must participate in rapid testing and screening once per week.

Town council passed the motion Dec. 13 after a heated debate. The policy, proponents said, will help keep workers safe when they return to work in person in the new year.

Although a Covid policy for town employees currently exists, council said accommodations and regulations for the non-vaccinated have not been sufficiently addressed and that its content is vague and could be subject to a wide spectrum of interpretation.

“It just leaves it wide open that, oh OK, if you don’t want to show proof of vaccination and you don’t want to be involved in screening then we’ll just let you work off somewhere where you don’t interact with anybody,” said Coun. Wayne Oliver.

Oliver and Mayor Don Anderberg said that working remotely might not always work for every job or profession and that testing would simply provide another option.

“If your main duty is being a lifeguard, you may have a hard time having that person not interact with the public and have a hard time finding that position something to do,” Anderberg said.

The provincial government will cover the majority of fees associated with screening kits.

Coun. Sahra Nodge said making the decision was difficult, but that it’s for the best. With the new policy, vaccinated individuals can rest assured they work in a safer environment, while unvaccinated workers won’t be forced to work from home or get inoculated.

“It’s always a challenge balancing the rights of the many against the rights of individuals. I think one of the reasons employers are developing policies requiring vaccination is to ensure they’re providing a safe work space for employees who are immunocompromised,” she said.

“We have a lot of children who are using our facilities. There’s the expectation that we do the utmost that we can to ensure that our facilities and our workers are safe.”

Anderberg noted that the policy would likely be updated in the future to reflect ever-changing federal and provincial regulations.

The Omicron variant, which has been shown to be more contagious, could change everything, he said, and Canadian employers could be required to test all workers in the future, even those who have been vaccinated.

Therma Bright Inc. is on track to launch the AcuVid Covid-19 rapid antigen saliva test. The Canadian company initiated a United States clinical performance study in November. Once approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the test would eliminate the need for a nasal swab and workers would be able to administer the test themselves.

“For me that’s a bit of a game changer,” said Oliver. “Because if all I have to do is spit in a vial and look positive or negative, then I would not be in favour of anyone being exempt from testing if they weren’t vaccinated because it’s so easy.”

Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting