Nearly 2,000 N.B. public sector workers not vaccinated as deadline arrives
The vaccination deadline for public sector workers in New Brunswick has now arrived, and while the province says the vast majority have been double-dosed, that still leaves nearly 2,000 who are not.
There are approximately 307 workers in government, 792 in education, 734 in the regional health authorities and Medavie and 162 within the Crown corporations who remain unvaccinated, according to figures from the province, which had set Nov. 19 as its deadline date.
Those without two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, or without a first dose and a confirmed appointment for a second, will be placed on unpaid leave.
"There will be very, very few exceptions to this," Premier Blaine Higgs said during Thursday's COVID-19 briefing.
Horizon Health says while more than 96 per cent of all staff have now received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine, 283 employees have not provided any proof of vaccination and 148 have provided proof of receiving one dose.
"Staffing contingencies are in place, and we do not anticipate any significant impacts on service at this time," reads a statement from Margaret Melanson, the vice-president of quality and patient-centred care at Horizon.
"Should the situation change, we will ensure the public are notified ahead of time."
But with well-documented staffing shortages across the province, People's Alliance of New Brunswick MLA Michelle Conroy has expressed concern about the impact of those losses and wonders about a back-up plan.
"I've gotten calls from paramedics, I've gotten calls from nurses and front-line staff that are going to be off work," says Conroy, "so it's terrifying because I know the shortage is so critical right now, especially in health care, and this is just going to add to that."
The New Brunswick Teachers' Federation is also expressing concern.
"Teachers in New Brunswick are seriously questioning government's ability to stabilize the public education system given yesterday's announcement of the loss of 792 staff members across the province," co-president Connie Keating wrote in a statement to CTV News.
In yesterday's COVID-19 news release, the premier said that when it comes to how long these workers will be on leave without pay, that's something they're looking at and no decision has been made.