N.L. getting rid of mandatory COVID-19 vaccine rules

·2 min read
The Newfoundland and Labrador is getting rid of its vaccine mandate starting June 1, 2022. (Michael Probst/The Associated Press - image credit)
The Newfoundland and Labrador is getting rid of its vaccine mandate starting June 1, 2022. (Michael Probst/The Associated Press - image credit)

Newfoundland and Labrador's Health Department is lifting its COVID-19 vaccination requirements for public servants.

The move means provincial government employees won't need to have both doses of the vaccine as of June 1.

Neither will anyone working in a personal-care home, assisted-living facility or home-care setting. The vaccine regulations are also being lifted for people working in private health clinics, private schools, post-secondary institutions, fire departments, ambulance services and child care.

It's not clear whether the move applies to health-care workers and teachers.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, the Health Department said "given the current epidemiology of the province, a decision has been made not to extend" the regulations.

The rules — which included health-care workers and teachers at the time — were announced in October and took effect Dec. 17.

They required anyone working with a vulnerable population, anyone working in the child-care sector and anyone working where the provincial vaccine passport was in effect to have both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

For unvaccinated employees without an approved medical exemption, the alternative was to be placed on leave without pay.

The day the regulations took effect in December, Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said 32 public servants were not compliant with the policy.

As of Thursday, there were 30 employees on leave because of their vaccination status. A spokesperson for the Treasury Board Secretariat said they're all eligible to return to work on June 1.

In February, Memorial University — which had brought in its own vaccine mandate — said 15 staff members were on unpaid leave because of their vaccination status.

Speaking at October's announcement of the vaccine rules, Premier Andrew Furey wouldn't say whether someone could be fired for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

But he did say the vaccine mandate policy was to be reviewed every six months.

In the press release Public Health said it "will continue to monitor the epidemiology of the province and, as with any public health measure, these may be reinstated at any time deemed necessary in the future."

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