Union of BC Municipalities delegates voted Sept. 21 against calling on the B.C. government to lift COVID-19 vaccination mandates for health-care workers.
A resolution said B.C. is one of the last remaining provinces in Canada requiring a vaccine mandate for health-care professionals. This has exacerbated a shortage of health-care workers due to dismissal of those workers who refused vaccination.
The resolution said the government should lift the mandate and allow those workers to return to work to lessen the strain on the health-care system.
Speakers spoke passionately both for and against the resolution, presented at this week's annual UBCM convention in Vancouver; numerous people against the resolution said the issue is one that belongs to public health officials, not politicians.
“This is a health issue,” Victoria Coun. Dave Thompson said. “We need to stay in our lane as city councillors.”
He said the issue needing to be addressed is paying more and providing improved working conditions.
Health-care workers “of all people” should be following medical guidelines, added Saanich Coun. Teale Phelps Bondaroff.
Saanich Coun. Karen Harper spoke against the resolution. She’s been spending a lot of time with her 95-year-old mother in hospital recently. She wants to know that her mother is not going to be infected because someone chose not to be vaccinated.
“This is a decision that should be left up to medical professionals,” she said.
Mark Gisborne, director on the qathet Regional District said he’s double vaccinated — and works in health care.
However, he said the vaccinated workers' situation has led to workers moving between areas and leaving smaller places with inadequate services. And, he said, it has led to a decreased workforce.
“I’m exhausted,” he said. “I just want someone to show up.”
Bulkley-Nechako Regional District director Chris Newell said removing the mandate could help get workers back to work in smaller communities where health care is needed.
“It could be beneficial,” he said.