North

All N.W.T. gov't employees will have to show proof of vaccination by Nov. 30

The N.W.T. government is expanding its vaccine mandate to cover all its employees, not just those working with vulnerable populations.

COVID-19 circumstances in the territory have changed, says Finance minister

Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said the COVID-19 situation in the territory has changed, so the N.W.T. gov't is expanding its vaccine mandate to cover all territorial public servants. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

The government of the Northwest Territories is making it mandatory for all territorial public servants to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 30.

In a news release Monday, the government said it will be introducing amendments to its vaccination policy, which currently only applies to its employees who work with vulnerable populations.

In an email sent to territorial public servants, William MacKay, deputy minister of Finance, said all employees will have to show proof of vaccination by Nov. 30.

He said employees who don't provide proof of vaccination by then will have to undergo regular testing and may have to wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE).

"Employees who do not comply with enhanced PPE use and COVID-19 testing protocols as required will be asked to take leave without pay until they do so," MacKay wrote.

The news release stated accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis "for medical reasons or based on protected grounds under the Human Rights Act." 

COVID-19 situation has changed

The N.W.T. government said it had "engaged with the Union of Northern Workers, the NWT Teachers' Association, Indigenous governments and others" in drafting the policy and making the amendments.

Caroline Wawzonek, the N.W.T. minister of Finance, said circumstances had changed in the territory since the government first announced its vaccine mandate on Sept. 27.

"[T]he territory has been heavily impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak," she said in the release.

"We have an obligation as a government to create safe workplaces for our employees and to protect the health of the people that we serve. This policy will help support our efforts to get the current outbreak of COVID-19 in the NWT under control."

As of Friday, the Northwest Territories had the highest rate of active COVID-19 cases in the country — more than double the rate of Saskatchewan, which has the second highest. 

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