Beginning December 22, 2021, all City of Selkirk employees must either be fully immunized against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing to minimize the risk of impacts to safety for staff and members of the public.
The city’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy was approved Nov. 10 and all employees are required to be fully immunized within six weeks of the approval date. Employees who are not fully vaccinated will have to submit documented proof of negative COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test results on a regular, ongoing basis.
healthy workforce required to deliver critical services
Selkirk CAO Duane Nicol says that the City of Selkirk has implemented a Vaccination Policy because protecting staff and members of the public against COVID-19 is of the utmost importance.
“As an employer we have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace. We believe this is a necessary and reasonable precaution. We want all employee going home in the same or better condition than they arrived each day. On top of that, the services city employees provide are critical. Water and wastewater treatment and snow removal are all example of critical services that require a healthy municipal workforce. Business continuity is also a top concern,” said Nicol.
Nicol points to Merritt BC, who after their wastewater treatment plant was flooded, had to evacuate the entire city due to the health concerns related to backed up sewage.
“We run two sophisticated treatment facilities, both of which require expert staff to run. We have four people who can run our plant. An outbreak within that team could mean we can’t provide treated water, or wastewater. If either of those services are interrupted – the consequences could be catastrophic.”
Employees who choose not to be vaccinated or disclose their vaccination status will be responsible to cover the potential costs of their Rapid Antigen Testing, which for full-time employees, will be required three times a week.
Nicol says this additional measure is just an extension of the city’s existing practice of having employees self-assess their fitness for the workplace prior to attending.
“Employees have been doing a great job of self-assessing and not coming to work if they have been potentially exposed or are exhibiting symptoms. These tests are quick and not as strenuous as the tests conducted by health officials. It’s just an additional tool people can use to mitigate the additional risk which is a consequence of not being vaccinated. It’s a reasonable step to take to help keep your co-workers, and through them their families, protected,” said Nicol.
Any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to adhere to the city’s Pandemic Response Policy and guidance provided by Manitoba Shared Health.
If in the future Health Canada requires additional measures to fulfill its definition of fully vaccinated, including but not limited to booster shots, employees will be expected to comply with the additional measures to be considered fully immunized.