UPDATE: 2:09 p.m.
The City of Kamloops has secured rapid COVID-19 tests free of charge from the provincial government as it plans to implement its new vaccine policy mid-December, according to the chief administrative officer.
The city announced Monday that staff will need to declare their vaccination status by Dec. 15, and those not fully vaccinated by that date will be required to undergo COVID-19 rapid testing.
David Trawin said the rapid tests themselves, as well as test processing and shipping, will be free of charge. He said having personnel administer the tests will be a “minor expense.”
“We are looking at getting some staff, our safety staff, trained up to administer the test. In the meantime, we will be using a nurse to administer the test — and there is a charge for that nurse, but minor in the overall cost of doing things,” he said.
Trawin said the personnel cost will come out of the city’s wellness and safety budget. He also said the tests will not take place on city time.
“[It] basically still allows us to make sure that we have a safe work environment while we basically allow people to make a choice, their choice, on whether they want to test or not based upon their strong beliefs," he said.
The city’s vaccination policy states that contractors and volunteers will also need to declare their vaccination status by mid-December. Trawin said that only applies to contractors and volunteers who are on a city worksite or are in direct contact with a city staffer, and would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Trawin said only unvaccinated employees will be offered the testing option, not contractors or volunteers.
“Let's say you're a volunteer on X number of committees, we’re going to continue doing those committees via Zoom. So you would not necessarily need to follow those policies,” Trawin said.
Trawin said if a contractor or volunteer is meeting in-person with city employees, or is working out of city facilities, they would “have to be vaccinated.”
Trawin said the city does not know how many of its employees are vaccinated. He said officials will know once vaccination status disclosure is required next month.
ORIGINAL STORY: 1:34 p.m.
City of Kamloops staff will need to declare their vaccination status by mid-December, with regular rapid testing required for unvaccinated employees, according to a new vaccination policy implemented by the city.
In a news release sent out Monday, the city provided some details of its new policy, saying contractors and volunteers will also be required to declare their vaccination status by Dec. 15.
David Trawin, the city’s chief administrative officer, said in a statement the city strongly encourages employees to follow all public health measures and become vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The policy timelines provide sufficient time for employees to get from first dose to fully vaccinated. This is a global pandemic, and we all need to do our part,” Trawin said.
According to the city, employees who are not fully vaccinated by Dec. 15 will need to undergo COVID-19 rapid antigen tests. They will also need to complete an online educational program about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
The city said all employees hired after Oct. 31 must be fully vaccinated.
Castanet Kamloops is waiting for a response from the city in regards to what steps — if any — unvaccinated volunteers and contractors will be required to follow beyond disclosing their vaccine status.
According to the city, employees who choose not to comply with the policy will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence, possibly “subject to adverse employment consequences.”
The city said BC Human Rights Code accommodations will be made for staff who are unable to be vaccinated for a valid reason related to a protected ground.
Castanet Kamloops has also reached out to the IAAF — the union representing Kamloops firefighters — for comment on the policy.
Coun. Denis Walsh submitted a statement earlier on Monday saying a vaccine mandate is “a step too far.”
Walsh voiced concerns that there has been no public consultation on the policy, and that the city should focus more on “less intrusive methods” of preventing COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, as laid out by the BC Human Rights Commissioner.