The debate has come full circle on the vaccination requirement for employment at the regional district.
On Thursday the Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors voted in favour — without discussion of the motion or opposition — of rescinding its proof of vaccination policy.
The move comes on the heels of a province-wide abatement April 8 on the restrictions in place since March 2020, requiring face masks to be worn in public places indoors, as well as the vaccination passport to a requirement for employment and access to some businesses.
According to the policy, the regional district follows the advice of the government of B.C., the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, and the provincial health officer, regulatory bodies that recognized the COVID-19 vaccine as an effective way of preventing or reducing the risk of infection with COVID-19.
In the regional district staff report to the board, it was noted that “unvaccinated employees are at a higher risk than vaccinated employees of being infected with COVID-19 and transmitting COVID-19 to others.
“This policy is not intended to limit any duty of care or the rights and remedies available to the RDCK under the law.”
Under this rationale, district employees were required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, except as noted within the policy. Proof of vaccination status was to be provided to the regional district by Dec. 3, 2021, or upon commencement of employment.
All employees were required to adhere to the regional district policies and protocols, as it was established and amended from time to time, including:
- wear masks, including the type of mask which may be worn;
- maintain distancing; and
- practice hand hygiene.
Source: RDCK board agenda
Under the terms of the policy, all employees had to report their vaccination status to the regional district by the dates established. If employees were unable to provide proof of vaccination, they had to confirm this in writing to the regional district.
Those who are not vaccinated
Employees who cannot provide proof of vaccination will be required to wear a mask at all times while indoors at any regional district worksite.
“This includes while working alone at a workstation or in any space where another employee may enter, regardless of whether physical distancing can be maintained,” the staff report noted.
The determination of where a mask can or cannot be reasonably worn is at the sole discretion of the regional district, and will, where practical, be based on medical direction as appropriate or as determined by local or provincial health authorities.
Employees who failed to comply with the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy or any requirements imposed by the regional district pursuant to the policy were subject to discipline, up to and including termination.
There was no discussion by the board on whether or not some people did lose their jobs at the regional district over the policy and, if so, would they be hired back.
Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily