Nurses, teachers, and others are among those who will need to be fully immunized against COVID-19 in Manitoba, or be subject to frequent COVID-19 testing.
Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister say front-facing government employees, including all MLAs, require COVID-19 vaccinations or will need to undergo regular testing.
"It is not a condition of employment," says Roussin, who says anyone who does not get vaccinated will undergo frequent testing, up to three times a week for full-time employees.
Positions requiring vaccinations or testing include:
- direct health-care providers and workers, including but not limited to physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, support service staff and others deemed appropriate for each site/area/program in public and private health-care settings, and direct care providers are defined as anyone who may come in contact with patients/residents/clients, patient/resident/client care environments, patient/resident/client care equipment, and blood and body fluids;
- educational workers including teachers, school and educational support staff, practicum students, bus drivers and custodial staff;
- child-care workers including staff and practicum students working in licensed early learning and child care facilities;
- public servants and funded-agency employees who work in in high-risk settings with direct, ongoing contact with the public or clients, such as those who work in congregate/residential settings or group homes, or work with vulnerable populations including children, or have to enter the home of a client or who regularly visit sites with vaccine mandates in place as part of their duties; and
- Manitoba Justice employees who work with vulnerable people and in correctional facilities
The due date to be two weeks fully immunized is October 31 for those who are not yet vaccinated. Roussin is unsure of the potential gaps in healthcare if workers refuse to be vaccinated or get frequent COVID-19 tests, saying it is something they will be monitoring. Staffing for intensive care in Manitoba's hospitals was a contentious issue in the previous wave, as there were not enough beds, sending patients out of province. Roussin says staffing could be an issue with this fourth wave.
The province does not yet have a plan as to how testing will meet the new demands.
The Premier says "we are strengthening the value" of being vaccinated which will include some facilities and events being limited to people with proof of being fully immunized, set to be announced in the coming days.
The doctor is recommending businesses mandate vaccinations for employees.
"This is a pandemic largely of the unvaccinated," Roussin says.
Proof of vaccination can include the provincial QR code system, which has proven to be difficult and inaccessible for many, or a secure printed provincial immunization record.
Roussin says mask use must be used in all indoor public places, including schools, in future days. That date has not been set but most schools, including post-secondary, have mask requirements. Roussin confirms that the provincial mask mandate in schools will be in place before the new year begins.
Pallister says they are "hearing projections that are dire." He says there is no need for a repeat of previous waves.
Dr. Jazz Atwal, Roussin's deputy, is anticipated to share COVID-19 modelling later in the day at 2 p.m. in a media meeting. Pallister, looking at Ontario and British Columbia's modelling, says the projections are "really hitting" him. Both Roussin and Pallister are hinting at high projections.
This is an ongoing story and will be updated.