Unvaccinated Sask. Parks Canada staff 'in a tough spot' over federal policy
A group of Parks Canada (PC) employees based in Saskatchewan may soon be off the job due to their COVID-19 vaccination status.
“This isn’t about vaccines, it's about people's choice about what goes into their bodies,” one of the PC employees told CTV News.
CTV News has agreed to shield the employee's identity due to concern over potential repercussions.
On Oct. 6 the Government of Canada announced its plan to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees in the core public service, Crown corporations and separate agencies and for employees to attest to their vaccination status.
Unvaccinated federal core public servants could be placed on unpaid leave as early as Nov. 15, rendering them ineligible to collect employment insurance benefits.
According to the employee and two others CTV News spoke with, about 20 employees working in national parks located in the province could be affected by the policy.
However, it is not known whether Parks Canada employees will need to attest to COVID-19 vaccination.
A Parks Canada Agency (PCA) representative told CTV News a timeline for the policy has not been released and the agency is waiting on further details.
“A new Parks Canada Agency policy, including the policy’s effective date will be communicated to Parks Canada employees well in advance of compliance-related deadlines,” a statement said.
One of the employees told CTV News that they feel they are not feeling supported by their union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).
The PSAC position is, “get vaccinated or suffer the consequences," the employee said.
“PSAC and the vast majority of our membership are in favour of vaccination measures such as this policy. It’s the best way to reduce the number of cases and keep our workplaces and our communities safe,” said PSAC NCR regional executive vice president Alex Silas.
He said it’s unclear how employees seeking accommodations will be received under the policy.
“We’re going to look at those on a case-by-case basis and make sure that our members' collective agreement, workplace rights and health and safety rights are respected," he said.
One of the employees CTV News spoke with fears that by placing the employees on unpaid leave the government would be denying their earned benefits.
"It leaves them in a tough spot because people have paid into EI for many years and they will not be able to collect EI," the employee said.
"If they were terminated at least they’d get paid out their benefits that they accumulated over the years … (without that) they’re just left in limbo without a paycheck."
This article has been clarified regarding potential unpaid leave for Parks Canada staff.