City workers that have direct contact with vulnerable members of the public will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Winnipeg's chief administrative officer Michael Jack is announcing Tuesday that by October 28, many front-line City of Winnipeg workers will need to have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Implementing this vaccine requirement was not a decision we took lightly," Jacks says in a Tuesday-afternoon press conference. "It is something that we have been looking at closely since vaccines were rolled out in this province."
A cross-departmental team has been looking at how this can be done thoughtfully and respectfully.
"We were looking whether the recently-announced order might include our frontline staff," Jacks says, commenting on the gap between the province announcing their mandate and the city.
This new mandate affects those who work in high-risk settings with direct, ongoing contact with the public Roles include public safety, community protection, recreation services, and public transportation. This includes public-facing customer service roles and working with children who are younger than 12-years-old.
Contracted employees are included in the mandate; elected councillors are not. Employees under the age of 18 will fall under the vaccination requirement. Medical and religious exemptions will be handled by human resources on a case-by-case basis.
"We are obviously hoping that all of our employees will choose, where possible and where they can where they are not dealing with a medical issue, that they will simply choose to be vaccinated."
Mayor Brian Bowman says they were hoping the provincial orders would include municipalities, but since it did not, Bowman is encouraging other municipalities to mandate vaccinations.
Jack can not speculate how many employees will be affected but says there is a high rate of uptake.
It is currently unknown what the protocol is for staff who are unvaccinated will be, but they will have a city job. It could include regular COVID-19 testing or be redeployed to a non-public facing position, depending on how many employees are currently unvaccinated.
The City is collecting vaccine statuses from employees affected starting next week. Jack is confident that the two weeks will be enough time to collect these records.
Working with the province, mobile vaccine clinics will be set up for city employees who wish to get the vaccine. The last date before an employee will be affected by the new mandate is September 30 for first doses and October 28 for the second.