"As previously announced, in alignment with the recommendation of a/CMOH and as will be required by law, all public servants are required to have their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination by November 30, 2021; and their second dose by January 30, 2022."
With those words and with the reinstatement of the State of Emergency, the Yukon Government has effectively turned an unseen employer policy into a law enforceable by CEMA officials.
YEU President Steve Geick received the letter linked HERE eight minutes before the start of this morning's press conference after the cancellation of several high level meetings with YG officials in recent weeks. The union has not yet seen any version of a proposed policy, not even a draft.
Today's announcement confirming mandatory vaccine requirements comes as little surprise. We've seen our meetings with decision makers cancelled and our deadlines ignored as we attempt to engage in genuine consultation with the Yukon's largest employer. And while we support a vaccine policy to protect workers, we stand firm that this government could have done much more to protect workers from job loss by exploring alternatives including remote work and rapid testing; it's working in other jurisdictions and could work here.
The best course of action for workers has always been vaccination against this virus, and we hope those whose employment is in jeopardy will consider their positions in light of the government's announcement.
We will do what we can to defend the rights of workers with legitimate medical contraindications or whose religions have theological objections to vaccinations. The reality of emerging case law indicates that there is little we or any union can do; personal choice is not a protected ground under Human Rights legislation. The employer is clear in their intention to make vaccination a term of employment both in policy and by the legal means available to them under the Civil Emergency Measures Act.
YEU supports vaccination as an important occupational health and safety tool. We will continue to explore our options as we seek to address the government's heavy handed, clumsy and non-consultative process, and we will update members as we move forward. We are awaiting answers to many questions around maintenance of employee benefits and pension contributions for those who will be placed on leave without pay.
Please be kind to other workers in the territory who are simply doing their job as this mandate rolls out. Please also remember that the people on the other side of the issue are as concerned as you, and just as worried about their health and well-being, their careers and families.
Premier Silver insists that anyone angry with the government's response to the current outbreak and ongoing COVID-19 situation should address their concerns to him. These decisions are indeed the responsibility of the premier, and we encourage you to take him at his word. If you have concerns about the enforcement of a mandatory vaccination policy and how it may impact your professional life and personal liberty, please reach out to Premier Silver by email or phone.
Steve Geick, President