Federal workers refusing vaccine need alternatives: union

‘Discipline and termination to enforce [requirements] is unacceptable’

Federal workers refusing vaccine need alternatives: union

The federal government should not discipline or terminate the employment of public service workers who refuse to take COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

The group issued the statement after Ottawa announced it will require employees in the federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors to be vaccinated and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said those who refuse would face “consequences.”

“PSAC supports vaccination requirements for federal workers to ensure the safety of our members in their workplaces, and to protect our communities, but using discipline and termination to enforce them is unacceptable,” says the group.

Employees with a valid medical reason for being unvaccinated, or for reasons protected by human rights legislation, must be offered formal accommodation under the law, it says. PSAC has also been in consultation with the federal government on their vaccination proposal.

Ontario is also now requiring hospitals and home and community care facilities to implement COVID-19 vaccination policies for employees, contractors, students and volunteers, and for ambulance services to have the same for paramedics. The requirement is similar to the one that has been implemented in long-term care homes earlier this year.

Possible alternatives

PSAC adds that the federal government should temporarily reassign workers who are unable or unwilling to be vaccinated to other duties where possible, or allow for alternate work arrangements such as remote work.

The government must also look into regular screening and rapid testing, the group says.

There are several legal questions for employers when it comes to mandatory vaccines.

Several stakeholders have also expressed support for the federal government’s announcement, including the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada PIPSC.

"As the union representing the scientists who approved the COVID-19 vaccines, PIPSC welcomes all efforts to increase vaccination coverage in Canada," says Debi Daviau, president.

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