Group of BC public servants lobbying for removal of "unethical" vaccine mandates

Feb 7 2022, 10:10 pm

A group of BC public servants is calling on the head of the BC Public Service and the BC General Employees Union (BCGEU) to end vaccine mandates.

The BC Public Service Employees for Freedom represents more than 400 registered and verified members. They are advocating for employees who feel they’ve been “coerced into taking the COVID-19 vaccine to keep their jobs.”

A letter addressed to Lori Wanamaker, head of the BC Public Service, states that the COVID-19 vaccination policy is “unlawful, unconstitutional, discriminatory and unethical.”

“It’s been a really difficult time, these last few months,” reads a statement from an anonymous employee.

“I’ve laid awake, night after night, wondering how I’m going to pay the rent and bills. I haven’t been able to get EI because of the way the government has reported me on leave, and I don’t know if I’ll get any at all because they’re saying I’ll be terminated for just cause.”

The group also addressed a letter to the BCGEU president, suggesting that the union is responsible for “addressing problems affecting the union’s members, responding and engaging with all members and developing concrete strategies through direct consultation.”

According to the group, some employees are facing termination due to non-compliance with vaccine mandates.

The policy was first introduced in October 2021, when Wanamaker announced that all BC public servants had to be able to present a BC Vaccine Card by November 22 “or face leave without pay and possible termination after three months.”

Using data from within the last month from the BCCDC COVID-19 dashboard, the group says that nearly 80% of new COVID-19 cases were among the vaccinated, and that over two-thirds of patients admitted to hospital with severe illness were vaccinated.

“If our vaccinated colleagues can work from home online, but we can’t and will be fired because we won’t disclose our personal, private medical information or take a vaccine that doesn’t stop COVID infection or transmission, how does that ensure workplace safety?”

Based on the timeline presented by the BC Public Service, the Employees for Freedom suggest that the first government employees could be fired as soon as February 22.

BC recently announced that vaccine mandates for the public have been extended until June 30.

In a statement to Daily Hive, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith said that the union was aware of the group’s sentiments.

“We know that the vast majority of BCGEU members, like the vast majority of British Columbians, are vaccinated. The BCGEU’s position has not changed: since the beginning of the vaccine program we have encouraged every union member who can get vaccinated to do so and, since the beginning of vaccine mandates, we have encouraged any member who believes their collective agreement rights have been violated to contact their union immediately”

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