Staff, volunteers and contractors at the City of Quesnel will no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The city announced through a news release it will be rescinding its mandatory vaccination policy effective Thursday, Dec. 1.
“My immediate response is that I’m very happy to see that,” said mayor Ron Paull who will soon be able to access his office. “It is about time. It went on for too long.”
The city noted since the start of the pandemic, health and safety of its workforce and residents have been a top priority.
In late 2021, the city introduced a mandatory vaccination policy in order to provide a safe work environment for its employees, contractors, and visitors and to slow the spread of the virus. A number of employees were not fully vaccinated, and ten were terminated from their employment in February 2022, launching a $20 million civil claim against the city.
“COVID-19 has now become one of several respiratory illnesses that are prevalent locally and the impact of the virus on our community and the City of Quesnel organization is changing,” the new release reads.
The city added, as an employer, it will continue to take every precaution reasonable to safeguard employees from workplace hazards, including COVID-19.
Manager Byron Johnson confirmed the BC Supreme Court recently tossed the civil claim against the city and province that instead appeared before a now completed labour arbitration process with CUPE, which is subject to confidentiality agreements.
“From our perspective at the city, those employees who are gone were legally terminated, and there’s no intention to bring them back,” Johnson said.
Public health officials continue to communicate that vaccination is the best way to keep ourselves and others safe. Therefore, the city strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including a booster dose to prevent severe illness.
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