Métis Nation in B.C. introduces mandatory vaccine policy
Policy rollout begins Oct. 4; unvaccinated staff will be placed on unpaid leave, nation says
Métis Nation British Columbia will soon require proof of vaccination from all staff, vendors and visitors who wish to enter its offices.
The rollout for the nation's mandatory vaccination policy is broken into two stages, much like B.C.'s vaccine card.
Starting Oct. 4, people will be required to show proof of at least a single dose of the vaccine. By Nov. 15, proof of a second dose will be mandatory.
The nation says any staff who fail to meet the requirements will be placed on unpaid leave.
"Part of being leaders is to make difficult decisions," says Lissa Dawn Smith, MNBC acting president, in a release.
"I am confident that this is the necessary action to protect our staff, our citizens, our elders and our communities.
MNBC represents nearly 90,000 people and is one of the largest Indigenous governments in the province, with regional offices spread out across B.C. The policy applies to all of its offices.
So far, the province has only required mandatory vaccination for workers in any type of health-care setting.
The province is currently gripped in a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, health officials announced that COVID-19 patients in northern B.C. would need to be flown elsewhere for care as local hospitals are being pushed to their limits.
Across the province, there are 332 people in hospital with the disease.
"We need to do our part to help get us through the last leg of this pandemic," says Daniel Fontaine, CEO and deputy minister at MNBC.
Fontaine said reaction to the policy so far has been mixed.
"The vast majority of our staff are double vaccinated and are very supportive of this. From a general public perspective — social media is what it is — but clearly there are a number of people who are non-Metis who are weighing in on this that are not supportive," Fontaine said.
Fontaine said his organization wants to lead by example.
"We support the provincial health office and their work in getting our population [vaccinated]. We support the science on the vaccines."
With files from On The Coast