Health-care professionals in B.C. have until March 31 to provide their vaccination status to their professional colleges or face sanctions from the public health office.
The order has been a long time coming. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry first spoke on the order in Oct. 2021 when an initial order required all health-care workers in residential, acute and community care settings went into effect.
Henry had set a deadline of March 24 for health-care professionals to receive at least one dose of vaccine, however, a public health order posted Monday makes no mention of the deadline. It says only that practitioners must provide their vaccination status to their colleges by the end of the month and does not outline any potential consequences for remaining unvaccinated.
This order applies to dentists, dental hygienists, denturists, chiropractors, naturopaths, Chinese traditional medicine practitioners, optometrists, massage therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, speech and hearing professionals, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians and surgeons, and dieticians.
Pushback against the order has been bubbling for some time. Back in November, a motion was passed at the annual general meeting of the College of Chiropractors of B.C. calling for the organization to “protect medical freedom of choice”. After the motion was passed by 78 per cent of attendees, the college walked back the non-binding motion and said the majority of B.C. chiropractors support vaccination.
Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Mark Dalton also voiced opposition to the order. In a letter to health minister Adrian Dix, Dalton expressed concerns that he said were brought forward by health-care providers in his riding.
“Those who have been affected are often hesitant to publicly come forward due to personal and professional repercussions or becoming another victim in today’s ‘cancel culture,’ said Dalton. “In light of this, many of these professionals are making the decision to quit their position, retire or leave the workforce.”
“Is this really the correct path for healthcare in our province?”
The public health order does not have an expiration date. In the order, Henry makes clear that she will not accept requests to reconsider the new rules.
According to the province’s March 7 COVID-19 update, 93.3 per cent of eligible British Columbians aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine and 90.8 per cent have received two doses.