"I will not be coerced," says one public servant.
If you are a government worker, a front-line health care worker, or if you want to access non essential services like bars and restaurants, you’ll have to get your COVID shot by November 30.
The vaccine mandate will apply to all public servants, teachers, and those who work in hospitals, long-term care homes, medical clinics and allied health care settings.
As well, people working for non-government organizations that provide services to vulnerable populations and are funded by the Yukon government, or those who work in group homes, shelters and the Whitehorse Correctional Centre will need to get their two doses.
Premier Sandy Silver announced the news alongside Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catharine Elliott at the territory’s first COVID-19 press conference in over a month. The updates were put on hold because of low case numbers, but with infections on the rise, Silver was back in front of the camera. He says the new rules will help get the territory’s vaccination rate up, but it could mean a lack of workers.
“I absolutely am concerned about staff shortages. There will be extreme challenges ahead,” said Silver.
Erin Giesbrecht is a public servant who says she won't be getting the shots. She says she is most likely going to lose her job.
“I’m being effectively dismissed from my position as of November 30 because I will not be coerced. I will not be bullied. I won’t put something in my body that I don’t want,” says Giesbrecht.
Silver says the details of the “major changes” are being ironed out.
“The public service commission is working through the details and the logistics of this requirement for our employees and will be working very very closely with our partners that provide services to vulnerable populations to find out what the concerns are there. What I’m hearing nationally, locally, I’m hearing a lot of support for these measures,” said Silver.
When it comes to non essential services, you'll have to show proof of vaccination after the new regulations come in to effect.
Right now, more than 80 percent of Yukoners have got their shots. Silver says to fight the delta variant, that number needs to be over 90 percent.
Dr. Elliot has some recommendations to keep COVID-19 at bay until November 30. She says people who are not fully vaccinated should avoid non-essential services for 10 days after travel outside of the territory and social gatherings should be limited to 20 people indoors if everyone is fully vaccinated, or six if not fully vaccinated.
Dr. Elliott says that much like the rest of Canada, the Yukon is now in the fourth wave. She says there are an average of seven new cases in the territory every day. There are currently 63 active infections.