Employees of the GNWT who work closely with “vulnerable members of the public” will be required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 30.
All employees working with the territorial government remain encouraged to get the jab as per a letter from the department in August. However a select few, including those workers in health care, corrections, education and with duty travel to remote communities, will be made to take it.
In an email that appears to be from deputy minister of the department of finance William MacKay to GNWT employees that was shared with NNSL Media, he says the territorial government has consulted with the Union of Northern Workers, the Northwest Territories Teachers Association, Indigenous governments and other groups to create the mandatory vaccination policy.
“The objective is to ensure a safe working environment for our employees, as well as our communities and the vulnerable members of the public we serve,” MacKay said in the letter.
The GNWT issued a similar announcement with fewer details, also on Monday afternoon. It followed closely news that three more Northwest Territories residents had died because of COVID-19.
“Our thoughts are with the families and with community members at this time,” Dr. Kami Kandola, chief public health officer, said. “The OCPHO is saddened by this news.”
More information on the GNWT worker vaccination program is expected to be rolled out in the coming days and weeks, including how the policy applies to each government department.
“Accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis for medical reasons or based on protected grounds under the Human Rights Act,” MacKay said.
As for privacy and confidentiality on medical records, MacKay assured employees that only a select few will have access to information about vaccination.
“Access to documents and information related to an employee’s vaccination status will be on a need-to-know basis and restricted to only the specific individuals necessary to carry out the implementation of this policy,” he said.
An employees-only town hall is expected to take place in the not-too-distant future featuring MacKay and Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek where the two will answer workers’ questions related to working from home, vaccination requirements, and other human resources requirements, MacKay wrote.
Minister Wawzonek said in a statement that all civil servants within the GNWT should get vaccinated.
“As the NWT’s largest employer, the GNWT is committed to playing a leadership role in its response to COVID-19 by making decisions that protect the health and safety of the territory’s public servants and the communities in which they live,” she said.
“Although this policy applies specifically to employees and contractors providing services to vulnerable members of the public, we urge all of our employees to get vaccinated.
“A vaccinated public service will help protect all of our residents and communities, allowing us to provide the service and support NWT residents rely on us for.”