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It appears the country’s largest federal public sector union doesn’t like the idea of its members being told they must be vaccinated as a condition of their employment.

What seems to be upsetting the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) the most is the idea the government could discipline those civil servants who refuse to get jabbed, up to and including termination.

“We will take whatever action is necessary to defend our members around this issue,” said Chris Aylward, national president of the union.

Mr. Aylward says he supports vaccination requirements for federal workers, but doesn’t support any form of discipline for those who refuse to get inoculated. I wonder what he suggests then? That his vaccine resisters be banned from using the staff coffee machine as punishment? That they not be allowed to take part in Jeans Day Friday? That they should get to work from home, while the vaccinated are forced back to the office? Ah, I don’t think so.

I also wonder if Mr. Aylward has polled his members on this issue. Given that a vast majority of the country support vaccine mandates, it’s hard to believe that same sentiment wouldn’t be reflected amongst the 180,000 PSAC members – most of whom have been vaccinated, I’m sure. Why should any of them be potentially exposed to COVID-19 by a fellow worker who doesn’t want to get a shot?

This situation is also being played out in British Columbia, where the teachers’ union is demanding the government institute more protection protocols against COVID for students and staff. They want a mask mandate for all teachers, staff and students from K-12 before the start of school next month.

This is necessary, says Teri Mooring, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, because of the highly contagious Delta variant that is ripping through the province. But guess what Ms. Mooring doesn’t want? Mandatory vaccines.

She says even if you are fully vaccinated you can still transmit the virus. Which may be true. But if you’re not vaccinated, and you get the disease, many experts believe your chances of making someone else sick increases exponentially because of the virus load you’re carrying.

I don’t think teachers should be treated any differently than health care workers, especially given that they are interacting with children who won’t be vaccinated.

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There are all sorts of people being required to get vaccinated. Why do some feel they are so special they shouldn’t have to? Even more concerning, why are some provinces, and the public health officers overseeing pandemic policy, reluctant to mandate vaccinations?

This issue has emerged at the postsecondary education level, with some universities requiring vaccine mandates and others not. Alberta’s three major universities are the latest to require everyone attending their campuses this fall be fully vaccinated or get regularly screened for the disease through rapid testing. Only those who test negative can step on campus.

The situation is quite different across the border in B.C., where universities want a mandatory vaccine order but can’t get it. UBC president Santa Ono, has let the province know that he is in support of mandatory indoor masking and vaccination. Professors at all three of the province’s major universities are also calling for stricter measures to protect them and others from the spread of the disease.

But no. They’ve been told by the province that they can’t require safeguards more stringent than the current guidelines, which are pretty lax. Mask wearing remains a personal choice and classes do not have to follow any physical distancing requirements.

Why? Especially in a province that is in the grip of a fourth wave of COVID, and especially given that it’s the highly infectious and particularly concerning Delta variant that is primarily responsible for it?

Governments, unions and other groups opposed to vaccine mandates are just not reading the room. Canadians understand that we’re not out of this pandemic yet. The majority have done the right thing and got at least one dose of a vaccine, but more need to get the second dose and more yet need to get their first shot.

But the majority want us to get back to normal as soon as possible. Vaccine mandates will not only help to keep us safe, they are likely to act as the stick necessary to convince holdouts that the time has come to roll up their sleeves. And if they don’t, there will be consequences, including possibly losing their job.

That might seem draconian to some but given the situation we’re in, it’s exactly what’s needed. Nobody is safe until we’re all safe.

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