For Immediate Release: March 10, 2023
Today the BC Public Service finally rescinded its proof of COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all public service workers as of April 3, although it will remain for people working in health-care facilities.
In November 2021, the province made having two doses of vaccination against COVID-19 a condition of employment for B.C. public service employees. People who wouldn’t get vaccinated or wouldn’t disclose their vaccination status were put on unpaid leave.
The 36,000-member-strong public service includes everyone from administrative workers to corrections officers, wildfire fighters, and liquor and cannabis retail staff. A total of 314 employees were terminated for non-compliance, while another 236 are on unpaid leave or have — or are seeking — an approved accommodation. Those on administrative leave due to non-compliance will be allowed to return, according to the province. The move comes as the public service struggles to hire enough people to fill job openings.
Victoria lawyer Umar Sheikh of Sheikh Law, who represents about 600 public service workers who were affected by the proof-of-vaccination requirement, said while he is pleased the mandate has finally been dropped, “the lasting damage done by the mandate and the incredible delay in making this decision requires rectification.”
Sheikh said the province knew its mandate process was ineffectual at stopping the spread of COVID-19 and “despite this they continued to cause harm to hundreds of employees,” many of whom left the public service or were terminated and “bankrupted by the government’s decisions.” Sheikh says government workers who lost or left their jobs as a result of the vaccine mandate must be offered their jobs “with back pay and full restitution for the damages they have incurred.”
The BCPS Employees for Freedom Society continues their fight for B.C. public servants, abandoned by their union, BCGEU and abused by their employer, BC Public Service to ensure there is accountability, restitution and that this never happens again.
Sheikh said claims underway include a judicial review challenging the constitutionality of the mandate, wrongful-dismissal actions for non-union employees, and failure-to-represent actions against the B.C. General Employees’ Union with the B.C. Labour Relations Board.
> Read full Times Colonist article
According to the province, the requirement was always intended as a temporary measure to help protect employees and the people they serve. They maintain it was necessary and offer no apology, recourse or compensation for the untold harm caused to thousands of public servants.
The BCPS Employees for Freedom Society depend on donations to fund our efforts. We are grateful to and sincerely thank everyone who gives whatever amount they can.
We invite everyone who supports our cause to join with us to protect and advance the rights and freedoms of all British Columbians.
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“The government knew early on in the mandate process that their decision was ineffectual at stopping the spread of COVID-19 and despite this they continued to cause harm to hundreds of employees, many of which chose to leave the public service or have been terminated and bankrupted by the government’s decisions.
Today we are seeing the impact of the government mandates translated into a critically reduced workforce and in turn a degradation of the public service.
Those who were impacted must be offered their jobs back with back pay and full restitution for the damages they have incurred. One can only hope that the same new science is applied to all sectors in British Columbia, especially healthcare in order to get back from the critical staffing levels caused by this government. These mandates have and continue to be “ego” over substance.
We look forward to continuing our numerous actions and challenges on behalf of thousands of clients in this Province.”
Ralph · March 14, 2023 at 9:37 am
It mentions correction officer’s in this document and yet they plus sheriff’s can’t return to work. This “return to work” privilege doesn’t include them.
Kind of ironic as inmates have always had the freedom of choice regarding the vaccine..
Shauna · March 13, 2023 at 9:53 pm
As far as I know the order is still in place for corrections officers. I’m glad the fight will continue. I will continue to donate. For anyone in BC wanting to know a simple way to donate, drop your returnables off at a recycling depot and use the acount 123-123-1233 to have the donation go to BCPS for Freedom.