In consideration of the rapidly rising COVID numbers in the city, region and province and the safety and health of employees, the City of Lethbridge has made the decision to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for all City staff. This policy will require individuals to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 15, 2021.
City Manager, Craig Dalton says the decision to implement this policy was not one taken lightly.
"At the end of the day, our goal is to protect the safety and health of our staff and our community," says Dalton. "Ensuring people are vaccinated is the most effective way to do that."
Acknowledging there may be some employees unhappy about this announcement, Dalton confirmed the risk of not taking this step was far greater than the objections that may be raised.
"We anticipate there may be some resistance to this announcement from a small number of staff but we also know, working through those challenges poses a much smaller risk to our organization then the threat of COVID in our province right now."
The City of Lethbridge joins other municipalities who have also made vaccinations mandatory including the City of Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto.
City Council has been briefed and is aware of this new administrative policy and has shown broad support for the direction.
"I am pleased to see that we are moving towards mandatory vaccinations for City staff," says Mayor Chris Spearman. "We know the seriousness of the COVID situation in Alberta and we need to be doing everything we can to keep our community safe."
Previously, the City had announced steps taken towards a mandatory rapid testing program. The logistics and cost of moving forward with this model have simply been too prohibitive. This falls in line with the decision making of other local institutions such as the University of Lethbridge who have also moved to a mandatory vaccination policy.
"We need to take proactive measures that help to aid the very serious situation our health care system is facing right now," says Dalton. "We intend to add in as many layers of protection as possible to ensure or workforce is safe and we can continue to provide essential City services to our residents. On top of vaccinations, this also includes having employees continuing to work from home where possible, masking and distancing."
Due to the nature of their work, several City departments have already been mandated to become fully vaccinated. Fire and Emergency Services staff are required to be fully vaccinated by October 31 in accordance with Alberta Health Services' contract requirements. ENMAX Centre staff have also been mandated to be fully vaccinated to ensure business continuity and Lethbridge Airport employees direction aligns with federal and airline requirements.
The City of Lethbridge continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely, working with other municipalities, local organizations and all levels of government to understand the changing landscape and make informed decisions that will best protect the community.
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