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COVID Vaccine Mandates: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Recent orders from the Provincial Health Officer (PMHO) mandate that as of October 12 for the long term care and assisted living sector, and October 26 for the rest of the health sector all health care workers must be vaccinated  (defined as 7 days post-receipt of a full series of a WHO approved COVID vaccine) as a condition of employment. 

Updated orders from the PHO mandate that staff in the LTC sector who have received a single vaccine dose on or before October 11 may continue working provided that they receive their second vaccine dose 28-35 days after their first dose. Long term care workers who are not doubly vaccinated will be required to rapid test before each shift until 7 days after their second dose.

The order for the rest of the health sector similarly permits health care workers who have received a single vaccine dose on or before October 25 to continue working, provided they receive their second vaccine dose 28-35 days after their first dose.

Unvaccinated health care workers who are ineligible to work as of October 12 (LTC) or October 26 (rest of the sector) should be aware that they can return to work seven days after receiving a first dose, provided they receive their first dose by October 25 (LTC) or November 15 (rest of the sector). Workers who return to work under this provision must receive their second dose within 35 days of their first dose or they will once again be ineligible to work.

Additional orders require all health care workers to provide to their employers the following: 

  • Their PHN;
  • Legal first and last name; and
  • Date of birth. 

Employers are to collect this information and enter it into the provincial government’s data entry portal along with the name and address of the facility at which the member works.

The PMHO established a policy on Mask Use in Health Care Facilities that requires all health care workers continue to mask at work unless eating or drinking. As of September 16, members working in the LTC sector who have not yet provided proof of vaccination or whose vaccination status is not yet considered “fully vaccinated” will be required to take a rapid COVID test every day.  If the test is positive they need to leave the facility as soon as it is operationally safe to do so and undergo a PCR test to confirm or deny the results and communicate the results of the PCR to the employer/operator of their worksite. They will then not be able to return to the facility until they can provide proof of a negative PCR or 10 days have elapsed from the positive PCR, or when they have been cleared by their MHO.

According to the Health Employers Association (HEABC), the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the PMHO, failure to comply with these orders, which are conditions of employment, without a bonafide accommodation (discussed below) may be viewed by employers as insubordination and may be subject to employment consequences including discipline. This discipline will begin with unpaid leave but may be followed by further discipline, up to and including termination. It is our understanding that discussions of these consequences are ongoing. We expect to hear more as events unfold and will keep our members informed by updating this Q and A.