The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) will be suspending its COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Policy for its paid on-call firefighters for six months or pending further Provincial Public Health Orders.
An additional Board amendment was also made to allow staff to rapidly re-institute the policy should a COVID-19 outbreak take place within the CSRD’s fire services or at any individual fire hall. The Board agreed to delegate this responsibility to the Chief Administrative Officer, Human Resources Advisor and Team Leader of Protective Services, allowing them to make determinations on the vaccination policy without having to call a Board meeting.
The policy has been eliminated for elected officials. If elected officials choose not to be vaccinated, however, they will be required to work remotely where possible. If unable to work remotely, unvaccinated elected Directors will be required to wear a mask while in CSRD facilities and on CSRD business.
Unvaccinated firefighters will also be required to wear masks when working directly in the CSRD administration building.
To assist in protecting the health and safety of both CSRD staff and the public, the vaccination policy remains in place for all current CSRD employees and any newly hired workers.
While discussion around the Board table reflected various viewpoints, the majority of Directors voted in favour of the temporary suspension of the policy at this time.
It was also noted that suspending the policy reflected the position of most fire department members, who expressed that they were in favour of working with unvaccinated firefighters. This was, in part, because firefighters train for a short duration each week and much of this training takes place outdoors.
The CSRD lost approximately 15 per cent of its firefighting force with the implementation of the COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Policy. It is hoped that the suspension of the policy will encourage many of these firefighters to return to their firefighting duties