Widespread labour shortages have forced some businesses in Canada to rethink imposing Covid-19 vaccine mandates, and instead implement more flexible testing policies in an effort to meet safety requirements.
Although some provincial governments have recommended tough vaccine measures for the workplace, some Canadian businesses have reverted to regular Covid-19 testing in an effort to retain unvaccinated workers. “It’s already difficult to find staff, let alone putting in a vaccine mandate,” explained Canadian Federation of Independent Business chief executive Dan Kelly to Reuters.
Indeed, the latest data from Statistics Canada showed that the economy added a substantial 153,700 new jobs last month, which put Canada’s labour market above February 2020 levels for first time. However, there has also been a growing disparity between unfilled jobs and available workers, with job postings sitting well above pre-pandemic levels.
With about 80% of Canada’s population aged between 18 and 40 fully inoculated against the virus, various workplaces have mandated vaccines for staff. But, as the CFIB notes, such mandates also come with challenges, especially amid a widening shortage of labour. In the event that such vaccine mandates become strictly imposed, about 20% of the pool of potential workers would become unavailable, said Kelly.
Figures cited by Reuters showed the job vacancy rate in the second quarter stood at around 731,900— the highest on data records dating back to 2015. This has forced some businesses to reconsider vaccine mandates for workers. Soup and sauce maker Luda Foods president Robert Eiser told Reuters that he no longer plans to restrict the company’s hiring policy to just the vaccinated, especially as the company faces 14 vacancies.
But, Some businesses may not always admit that they are willing to forego mandatory vaccinations as a condition of employment. “If you go out and say, ‘We are intentionally seeking to hire unvaccinated people,’ many customers equate that with you being anti-science and anti-safety,” explained Provident Communications managing partner Wojtek Dabrowski.
As per the Canadian constitution, the responsibility of healthcare policies rests with provincial governments, allowing each individual province to set its own vaccine rules. Ontario and Quebec— Canada’s most populous provinces— initially mulled proposing a vaccine mandate on healthcare workers, but soon scrapped the plan, citing staff shortages.
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