Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

City to make announcement regarding unvaccinated employees, Yu says

City of Prince George employees not vaccinated against COVID-19 face termination on Sunday.
Simon Yu for mayor
Mayor Simon Yu told the Citizen that the city will be making an announcement regarding the city's COVID-19 vaccination requirement for staff before Jan. 15.

The City of Prince George will make an announcement regarding its COVID-19 vaccination requirement for city staff and contractors before Jan. 15, Mayor Simon Yu told the Citizen on Thursday.

Sunday is when City of Prince George workers, currently on unpaid leave, who have not complied with the city’s Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Program face termination.

“This was instituted before I became mayor and my position on that was very clear during the campaign, and I still stand behind what I said then," Yu said. "Administration is working on this file diligently and I will have an official announcement to everybody to address the 16 workers directly affected. We will address that before the deadline.”

The City of Prince George launched the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Program for staff and contractors on Dec. 30, 2021. In an email in October, a spokesperson for the city said that 97 per cent of city staff, including those on leave, had been vaccinated.

Employees who had not provided proof of vaccination to the city by the Jan. 14, 2022 deadline were placed on unpaid leave, according to letters sent from the city’s human resources department to employees. Copies of the letters were provided to the Citizen by multiple employees currently on unpaid leave.

"Your decision not to comply with the rule means you are no longer eligible to be actively at work and have essentially become disqualified to perform your duties," the letters say.

The employees were given until March 14, 2022, to provide proof they had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to maintain their right to hold their positions at the city.

"After that date, the City will begin the process of posting and filling your job," the letters say. "You will remain as an employee on leave of absence until such time as you become qualified to return to work."

The city's agreement with CUPE allows employees to remain on a leave of absence for a maximum of 12 months, the letter adds, "after which time your employment will terminate."

As of Thursday morning, the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Program was still in effect.

“The City of Prince George requires all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a mandatory condition of employment,” the city’s careers website says.

In a mayoral all-candidates forum on Oct. 12, Yu said he would scrap the city’s COVID-19 mandate for city staff members. Yu said he didn’t see any evidence to support that vaccines reduce the spread of COVID-19.

However, in a follow-up email to the Citizen, Yu clarified his position to say that he is vaccinated and supports vaccination, but not the city’s current mandate.

“… I don’t support the city’s current vaccine mandate policy as provincial and federal COVID-19 regulations have been lifted, and most recently, federal travel restrictions and processes have been eliminated,” Yu said in the email. “I don’t feel there should be a reason to carry out this policy to terminate an employee of the city if he or she is not vaccinated. I also have committed to work collectively with Northern Health to address the policy.”

In an email, CUPE Local 399 president Diana Forfar declined to comment on the labour relations matter, over privacy concerns. CUPE Local 399 represents the city's outside workers.

"We are aware of the January deadline and what we can say is that our obligation as a union is to represent any affected members and make sure their rights are protected," Forfar said.

A representative of CUPE Locals 1048, which represent the city's inside workers, could not be reached for comment as of Thursday afternoon. 

  • With files from Ted Clarke, Prince George Citizen