BCPS Employees for Freedom

February 6, 2022

Ms. Lori Wanamaker
Deputy Minister to the Premier,
Cabinet Secretary and Head of the BC Public Service
Lori.Wanamaker@gov.bc.ca

Ms. Wanamaker:

Re: End the Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate for BC Public Service Employees Now

We write in follow up to our October 28, 2021, letter (enclosed) regarding our serious concerns and opposition to what was, at that time, your proposed proof of COVID-19 vaccination policy for BC Public Service (BCPS) employees.

As a reminder, we advocate on behalf of a growing conglomerate of BCPS employees, including more than 400 registered and verified members, and many more who have resigned or retired early and reluctantly in response to your actions as Head of the BC Public Service. These include employees of all provincial government ministries, agencies, boards and authorities governed under the Public Service Act.

Since the BCPS proceeded to implement at your direction “Human Resources Policy 25 – COVID-19 Vaccination” (the Policy) on November 1, 2021, and began to place hundreds of employees on leave without pay starting November 22, a number of significant events and unfavourable evidence concerning the performance of B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program and public health strategy have seriously undermined the rationale for the Policy and exposed you, the BCPS as the employer, and the Government of British Columbia to extraordinary legal and financial liability.

Rationale for Vaccine Mandate Invalidated

In your October 5, 2021 email to all BCPS employees, you stated that “vaccination is the safest, most effective measure to reduce the transmission of the virus in our communities.” In a follow up email to employees on October 19, you further claimed that “I am confident the proof of vaccination policy is an important and necessary step to ensure our workplaces remain as safe as possible for each of us and for the public we serve,” and went on to say: “[v]accination against COVID-19 is without question in the public interest. The vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, and that is an evidence-based determination made by expert colleagues across the public service at the provincial and federal level.”

Unfortunately, your statements concerning COVID-19 vaccine efficacy have not withstood the test of time. According to the most recent data available from the BC Centre for Disease Control, people inoculated with one, two and three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine now make up nearly 80% of new cases and more than two thirds of hospitalizations and deaths in British Columbia from COVID-19.1

It is now widely acknowledged that the pharmaceutical products marketed as COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent either infection or transmission of the virus and its variants. What is more, while these interventions have been touted as effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death, the majority of British Columbians currently admitted to hospital and dying from COVID-19 are vaccinated.

Ms. Wanamaker, clearly these vaccines have not solved the problem as promised, yet it seems the approach of politicians and public officials in this province is to double down on a failed strategy and continue the senseless and coercive mandates that are impairing the delivery of public services, harming the public and the economy, and leading public servants and their families into financial ruin. If both the vaccinated and unvaccinated can become infected, transmit the virus and become ill, and the majority of British Columbians admitted to hospital and dying from COVID-19 are vaccinated, why must only the unvaccinated be prevented from working for the BCPS?

B.C.’s Changing Public Health Response to COVID-19

In October you said you made the decision to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for BCPS employees following a conversation with B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. We note that the Policy states that it “will be reviewed and updated as needed based on guidance and directives from the PHO.” Have you spoken with Dr. Henry recently? On Friday, January 21, 2022, she announced a major shift in B.C.’s response to COVID-19, admitting that “[w]e cannot limit all risk” and that going forward the public health guidance will be to manage COVID-19 much like “the common cold.”2 Dr. Henry elaborated further on this new guidance: “As long as we are feeling well, in this new context we can and must continue going to work, going to school and socializing safely in our small groups.”

Ms. Wanamaker, will you accept this guidance, reverse course on the Policy, and allow healthy, symptomless BCPS employees on unpaid leave to return to work? Or will you continue to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination with the BC Vaccine Card, in violation of employees’ rights to medical privacy, informed consent and bodily autonomy? And will you terminate BCPS employees starting on February 22 who have declined this ineffective pharmaceutical intervention or refused to disclose their personal, private medical information?

BC Vaccine Card – Useless to Protect Public Health and a Violation of Medical Privacy

Regarding the BC Vaccine Card, what exactly is the purpose of requiring this affront to medical privacy for employment now that it is clear the virus is transmitted between and infects both the vaccinated and unvaccinated? Has it been, as Dr. Patricia Daly, Vice-President, Public Health and Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, candidly told medical staff on a call that was made public in the fall of 2021, that the Vaccine Card is intended not to limit the spread of COVID-19 but rather to create “an incentive to get higher vaccination rates”?3

Whether the motivation to require BCPS employees to obtain the BC Vaccine Card has been to increase injections of an ineffective pharmaceutical, or to forcibly onboard employees onto a new Digital ID/Verifiable Credential to remain employed, it can no longer be credibly argued that it was to ensure safety in the workplace. This has been demonstrated by your continued deferral of the return to in-person work.

Work from Home, But Only if You’re Vaccinated

Ms. Wanamaker, for nearly two years now, since March 2020, the vast majority of office-based BCPS employees have faithfully performed their duties remotely from home, aided by the online tools we have become accustomed to using. While your predecessor, Don Wright, launched an aborted attempt to recall employees to the office in the fall of 2020, you have repeatedly deferred the return to in-person work, often citing the need for precaution with regard to COVID-19 and on one occasion the emergency flooding in the Fraser Valley. Throughout the fall of 2021 and now into 2022, you have alternately signaled an imminent return to the office and then, at the last minute, postponed it.

In October you told BCPS employees they would return to the office starting November 22, the date by which they were required to show the BC Vaccine Card to maintain their employment. This was, according to you, “an important and necessary step to ensure our workplaces remain as safe as possible.” Yet, the November 22 deadline came and went, BCPS employees who did not show a vaccine passport were placed on unpaid leave, and their colleagues who did continued to work remotely from home! You extended this deferral in December and again in January, indefinitely.

Quite frankly, we are struggling to understand these actions. Why was it necessary to put BCPS employees working safely from home on unpaid leave when their vaccinated colleagues continued to work remotely? How has this improved workplace safety? Has it been worth the disruption to the BCPS, to the delivery of programs and services, and the wave of resignations and early retirements, to achieve vaccination purity among BCPS employees? How can these actions be construed as anything other than an arbitrary form of discrimination against an entire class of public servants?

Costs to the Public and Punishment of Employees

This mandate has taken an unprecedented toll on public services and created an enormous legal and financial liability for the provincial government. How much will it cost the B.C. public in legal fees, severance, replacement and retraining costs to have removed many hundreds of BCPS employees for exercising their rights to medical privacy and choice, and to have sent many more experienced public servants unwillingly into early retirement? Is it a wise and prudent use of public funds, during these times of economic hardship and uncertainty, to punish employees in this way? Should this Policy prove to be untenable in the future, as we believe it now is, will terminated employees be welcomed back to work for the BCPS and once again serve the public?

Let Us End the Mandate Now

The world has reached a turning point in the COVID-19 saga. Many jurisdictions including England4, Saskatchewan5 and our closest neighbour, Alberta6, are beginning to recognize the error of COVID-19 restrictions and mandates and are moving to abolish proof of vaccination requirements and vaccine passports for healthcare workers and the public alike. Increasingly, medical experts and scientists are coming to the conclusion that vaccines are tools, not silver bullets,7 and that other public health approaches must be taken to deal with COVID19. Even Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, conceded this past Friday, February 4th, that all existing public health policies, including provincial vaccine passports, need to be “re-examined” in the coming weeks.8

Ms. Wanamaker, we ask you to acknowledge these realities and take the following actions:

  • End the proof of COVID-19 vaccination Policy for BCPS employees;
  • Reinstate BCPS employees placed on leave without pay immediately to their positions; and
  • Provide severance and back pay to BCPS employees who cannot return to their jobs due to the harmful, stigmatizing and discriminatory actions taken against them by the employer.

We urge you to meet with us as soon as possible to hear our concerns and help facilitate an amicable solution. The livelihoods and well-being of hundreds of dedicated public servants and their families depend on our collective ability to find common ground.

Please hear our appeal, Ms. Wanamaker. Let us end the mandate together now.

We thank you for your attention to this matter and look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

BCPS Employees for Freedom


1 BC Centre for Disease Control, COVID-19 Regional Surveillance Dashboard. Accessed February 6, 2022.< http://www.bccdc.ca/health-professionals/data-reports/covid-19-surveillance-dashboard >.
2 CTV News. “’We cannot eliminate all risk’: B.C. starting to manage COVID-19 more like common cold, officials say.” January 21, 2022 < https://bc.ctvnews.ca/we-cannot-eliminate-all-risk-b-c-starting-to-manage-covid-19-more-like-common-cold-officials-say-1.5749895 >.
3 Life Site News. “Top Vancouver doc caught admitting vax passports are merely ‘incentive’ program.” October 19, 2021 < https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/vaccine-passport-just-an-incentive-and-not-about-health-vancouver-medical-officer/ >.
4 The Guardian. “Ministers plan to scrap vaccine mandate for NHS staff in England.” January 31, 2022. < https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jan/31/ministers-plan-to-scrap-vaccine-mandate-for-nhs-staff-in-england >.
5 CBC News. “Sask. Premier says province will end proof of vaccine policy in ‘not-too-distant future’.” January 29, 2022. < https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/scott-moe-proof-of-vaccination-twitter-1.6332514 >.
6 The Globe and Mail. “Premier Jason Kenney to announce next week the date Alberta will end its COVID-19 vaccine passport.” February 4, 2022. < https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-kenney-to-announce-next-week-the-date-alberta-will-end-its-covid-19/ >.
7 The Globe and Mail. Op. Ed. Norman Doidge, MD. “Vaccines are a tool, not a silver bullet. If we’d allowed more scientific debate, we would have realized this earlier.” January 22, 2022. < https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-vaccines-are-a-tool-not-a-silver-bullet-if-wed-allowed-more-scientific/ >.
8 CBC News. “Canada needs to adopt a ‘more sustainable’ approach to COVID-19, Tam says.” February 4, 2022. < https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-more-sustainable-covid-response-1.6339609 >.


PDF Version of Open Letter to Lori Wanamaker


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News Release - BCPS for Freedom · February 6, 2022 at 7:53 pm

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