A growing number of Edmonton employers are warning workers they must get vaccinated against COVID-19 to remain on the payroll, while other businesses are struggling with how to deal with unvaccinated staff.
Edmonton-based industry giant PCL Construction has set a Nov. 1 deadline for employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The company, which does $8 billion in projects annually, does not plan to offer testing as an alternative to full immunization.
"Being fully vaccinated is the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19," said PCL CEO Dave Filipchuk.
EllisDon, whose projects include the Valley Line LRT, joined PCL in announcing the new vaccination mandate. Chandos Construction, which has an Edmonton office and worked on the Blatchford District Energy System, will require vaccination by Nov. 15 and urged other contractors to also "do the right thing."
Other major employers in Edmonton are also moving ahead with vaccine mandates. CN Rail's policy also applies to contractors and suppliers accessing the company's Canadian properties. Telus employees must be fully vaccinated to enter administrative buildings starting Oct. 1. On Oct. 15, all employees working outside of their homes in a customer-facing role must be vaccinated or submit to twice-weekly rapid antigen testing.
Edmonton federal government workers must also get vaccinated, along with employees of federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors.
City of Edmonton staff have until Oct. 31 to get a second dose or starting Nov. 15 pay for twice-weekly tests or go on unpaid leave.
While big employers are moving ahead with vaccine mandates, the provincial government's order that workers at companies covered by the Restrictions Exemption Program aren't also required to be vaccinated is described as a "huge gap" in public health measures.
"Small business owners are probably going to be far more reluctant on their own accord to require all staff to be vaccinated, even if they want to do the right thing, they might just not be feeling supported in doing that right now," Downtown Business Association executive director Puneeta McBryan told the Edmonton Journal.
The Edmonton Oilers are also facing resistance from players, with defenceman Duncan Keith delaying getting vaccinated so long he'll miss the first week of training camp. Winger Josh Archibald, who has tweeted about the pandemic, could miss 30 games if he continues to refuse vaccination and be required to quarantine every time the team returns to Canada after playing American teams.