Canada’s largest union openly rejected calls to discipline or terminate its members over their vaccination status. They clarified on Tuesday that accommodations must be made.
"This week, national political party leaders have made concerning statements about disciplining or terminating federal public service workers who choose not to be vaccinated as part of the government’s vaccine mandate proposal," wrote the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) in a statement.
PSAC said it supports vaccination requirements for federal workers to ensure the safety of its members in the workplace, and to protect our communities, but it said using discipline and termination to enforce them is “unacceptable.”
On August 13, Liberal President of the Privy Council Dominic LeBlanc announced the federal government would move forward with mandating vaccines for federal employees.
"This is an evolution of the government's posture in protecting the health and safety of Canadians since the beginning of the pandemic," said LeBlanc during the conference. "We have scientific data but also real-world evidence on how effective the vaccines are that have been approved for use by Health Canada."
No date for the mandate has been announced as of yet, though LeBlanc hinted that it would be implemented quickly.
"PSAC has been in consultation with the federal government on their vaccination proposal, and our position is clear: 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," reads the statement.
"In addition, if there are workers who are unable or unwilling to be vaccinated, the government must temporarily reassign those employees to other duties where possible, or allow for alternate work arrangements such as remote work."
PSAC said "other measures should be explored," including regular screening and rapid testing for those choosing not to get vaccinated.
The union added that it would continue to play an active role in consultations as the federal government develops its vaccination requirements plan.
"We will do our utmost to ensure the safety of our members while protecting their rights in the workplace – including their right to privacy," concluded the statement.