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BC Health Authorities Continue Non-Science-Based “Vaccinate-or-Mask” Flu Policies

  • Bulletin; Health & Safety
BC health authorities continue to enforce their “vaccinate-or-mask” influenza policy even though Ontario Arbitrator William Kaplan ruled that similar Ontario policies are “insufficient, inadequate and completely unpersuasive.”

In a dispute between the Ontario Nurses' Association and five Ontario hospitals, Arbitrator Kaplan struck down a vaccinate-or-mask policy because the hospitals couldn't provide any scientific evidence to support it. However, Kaplan's September  6, 2018, ruling doesn't apply to BC, so BCNU members must  follow employer policies during declared flu season.

BCNU has always opposed mandatory flu vaccinations. We will continue to support members' right to make personal/professional decisions about whether the flu vaccine is right for them. BCNU filed an industry-wide grievance that has been referred to arbitration. In the interim, members should know that failure to comply with the BC policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

 What Members Should Know

  • Familiarize yourself with your employer's flu vaccine policy.

  • You must advise your employer whether or not you have been vaccinated. Self-reporting of your influenza vaccine status is through a web-based form; your employer will advise you how to access the confidential form.

  • If you choose not to be vaccinated, ensure that you are following your employer's policy.

  • If you cannot wear a mask or receive a vaccination for medical reasons, seek an accommodation. If your request is denied, file a grievance.

  • If wearing a mask interferes with your ability to do your job, ask for an exception to the policy.  If your request is denied, file a grievance.

  • If you have an adverse reaction from a flu vaccine or from wearing a mask, complete an incident report and make a WorkSafeBC claim.

  • Take other precautions to prevent influenza including washing your hands and staying home if you are sick.

  • Inform your steward if your employer is not enforcing the immunization policy consistently. For example, not requiring all unvaccinated staff and visitors to wear a mask.

Mask Wearing and the Potential for Violence in the Workplace

  • BCNU is asking members to conduct point-of-care risk assessments prior to patient interaction to identify the potential for violence created by wearing a mask. Stop if a task is unsafe and speak with your manager or supervisor. If unresolved, use your right to refuse unsafe work.

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