All City of St. Albert employees will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 25.
The city announced they would be adhering to Alberta’s vaccine passport system, called the “restriction exemption program,” beginning Sept. 20. While the program outlined expectations for customers, one apparent loophole included employees.
Ryan Stovall, St. Albert’s director of human resources, safety, and environment, said in an email to The Gazette that the city decided to require all employees in all city departments and facilities to have at least one dose of approved COVID-19 vaccine before Sept. 27, and both doses by Oct. 25.
“To keep our employees, their families, and the public safe and healthy, we have decided to apply the provincial restriction exemption program standards with some modifications for city employees,” Stovall said in the email.
Employees who are unvaccinated will be required to complete rapid testing twice weekly, and produce a negative result before attending a city work site. Stovall said employees will have to pay for these tests out-of-pocket, and they must take place on their own time.
If employees do not complete a rapid test, and provide the city with results, are classified as unfit for work and are placed on leave without pay until a negative COVID-19 rapid test — or proof of vaccination — is provided.
Earlier in September, city employees were surveyed about their vaccine status.
“Although we cannot comment on individual personnel matters, a communication was sent to employees on Sept. 20 advising that 91 per cent of employees are fully vaccinated [with two doses],’” Stovall said via email when asked whether the survey results would be made public.
“Since that date, many more employees have now received their first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine,” Stovall said.
Stovall also added the city will “accommodate employees, to the point of undue hardship, [who] are unable to be vaccinated and the requirement to do so would constitute discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act.”
Such accommodations for employees would be predominantly due to medical conditions, Stovall said. He did not confirm whether the city has received any requests at this point, and did not elaborate on what “undue hardship” might look like by the time of publication.
"The city has a process for reviewing accommodation requests from employees on other protected grounds. The city will review any requests received and assess on a case-by-case basis," Stovall said in the email.