Langley Township is introducing a COVID-19 vaccination policy for its staff and contractors, the latest Lower Mainland community to do so after Vancouver and Abbotsford.
The mandate for staff was announced on Monday, Nov. 8, with staff told during their morning shifts. The deadline to be vaccinated is Jan. 14, 2022, to give employees who have not yet been vaccinated enough time to schedule their inoculations. The final details of the policy will be in place by Dec. 1.
“These requirements are an important part of the workplace health and safety measures that have been implemented by the Township over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure will help protect our employees and members of the public while also best ensuring continuity of service within our community,” said Mark Bakken, Township administrator. “Members of the public who are 12 and over are required to show proof of vaccination to access many Township services and we want the public to know that we are in this with them and employees, contractors and volunteers in our facilities should meet the same requirements.”
Anyone who isn’t vaccinated after the deadline won’t be allowed into Township workplaces.
There will be exemptions for those who qualify on protected legal grounds, based on the B.C. Human Rights Code.
The decision to implement the mandate was not made by council, but was a management decision by senior staff, said Mayor Jack Froese.
“I certainly would like to see everyone get vaccinated,” he said.
“Hopefully, this is not going to cause any undue hardship to anyone.”
Langley City council is likely to debate a vaccine mandate for municipal staff this month, as cities including Abbotsford move forward with policies to encourage or mandate staff vaccination against COVID-19.
“Staff is continuing to look at the options,” said City Mayor Val van den Broek.
Part of that is reviewing what other municipal governments are doing, so the Abbotsford decision will likely be taken into account.
The mayor said she expects council to see a report sometime in November on the City’s options.
The City of Abbotsford announced via a press release on Friday that it will require all city employees who are not fully vaccinated to comply with a “COVID-19 test screening program.”
More information was expected to be shared when the policy was finalized.
The press release stated that throughout the pandemic, the City of Abbotsford has closely followed provincial guidelines and protocol.
“Implementing a vaccination policy is consistent with that direction and is an additional measure to ensure our workplaces remain as safe as possible,” the release said.
Abbotsford is following in the path of the City of Vancouver, which ordered its employees to be fully vaccinated in mid-October. All employees except those who have medical or other valid reasons for exemption must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 6, or they won’t be allowed to come in to work.
Multiple governments and large employers, including in health care, are facing either vaccination mandates or a requirement to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing.
Health workers in B.C. are required to be fully vaccinated, or they are being put on unpaid leave.
The B.C. Provincial Legislature required employees as well as visitors to be vaccinated, WorkSafeBC has a staff vaccination policy, and all federal civil servants in Canada are under vaccine mandates. Airlines like WestJet and Air Canada each suspended about four per cent of their workers who did not get vaccinated by a recent deadline.
The provincial government has given school districts the freedom to decide whether or not to implement vaccination policies for their staff.
Langley School District announced on Oct. 28 that it would conduct a feasibility study on a vaccine mandate for its staff.
Surrey’s and Vancouver’s school board decided against a vaccine mandate earlier this month.
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