The City of Revelstoke is not being clear about any potential staff vaccination policy, and it’s unclear what the city is doing in response to provincial health leaders’ calls for employers such as local governments to adopt vaccination policies.
In late October of 2021, after provincial health leaders encouraged employers to adopt mandatory vaccination policies, revelstokemountaineer.com reached out to the city communications department to find out how the local government was going to approach the new development.
In the region at that time, other government organizations proactively communicated about their responses to the provincial call, including the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District in October, and the Columbia Basin Trust, also in October. To find out the city’s approach, we reached out.
However, the city’s response was unclear. It said the city had a safety policy in place, but it didn’t address the question of how it would approach provincial authorities’ call for mandatory vaccination policies.
On Oct. 25, a city communications department member wrote in reponse: “At this time, all staff and representatives of the City are required to adhere to the City’s Communicable Disease Safety Plan which promotes the health and safety of City of Revelstoke employees, visitors, patrons and contractors. This Plan is in compliance with current BC Provincial Health Orders and WorksafeBC directives.”
Because the response did not address the question, we followed up. Does the safety plan require staff to be vaccinated?
In response, the city communications department responded:
“The City’s Communicable Disease Plan was established using WCB Guidelines and is an internal document intended to be a guide to assist our employees in following policies and procedures designed to decrease the risk of communicable diseases,” they wrote.
We wrote back, saying the response was not clear again. We asked the question again: “Will the city be considering a mandatory vaccination policy for staff as other municipalities have?”
The city communications department responded with another email in late October:
“As demonstrated in our correspondence to date, I aim to provide you with up to date and timely information to the best of my ability. As previously stated, all staff and representatives of the City are required to adhere to the City’s Communicable Disease Safety Plan which promotes the health and safety of City of Revelstoke employees, visitors, patrons and contractors. This Plan is in compliance with current BC Provincial Health Orders and WorksafeBC directives. As you are well aware, COVID and its impacts are continuously evolving and I can not tell you how the City will address COVID and its impacts in the future. What I can tell you is that at this time the City’s approach is to adhere to the City’s Communicable Disease Safety Plan which does not require staff to be vaccinated.”
The response, dated Oct. 26, confirmed what was already understood: that staff were not required to be vaccinated at that time.
We followed up with emails in November, asking if there was an update, but the city communications department said there hadn’t been.
In December, as the Omicron wave swept over Revelstoke, setting all-time B.C. per capita infection records here, the Provincial Health Officer once again encouraged employers to set mandatory vaccination policies. We reached out to the city again, asking if the city had any updates on whether it was addressing the topic or not.
“The City of Revelstoke does not comment on subject matters related to labour relations or other employee relations,” it replied.
To the best of our knowledge, the topic of staff vaccination hasn’t appeared on any city meeting agenda.
Because the city is not communicating about what it is doing, it’s not clear what is happening.