The decision not to enforce a mandate puts the department at odds with other police forces, including the RCMP and the Victoria Police Department, which have required officers to be immunized since mid-November.
Refusal to get vaccinated will come with a cost, however. VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin told CTV News that any officer who hasn’t provided proof of vaccination within the next three weeks “will be required to undergo rapid testing,” at their own expense.
It’s unclear how often that testing will be required. Visintin said details of the testing policy are still being decided.
“We hope everyone will be fully vaccinated and will provide proof of their vaccination status by Dec. 30,” Visintin said in an email. “We won’t know until after the deadline whether we do, in fact, have 100 per cent compliance.”
RCMP officers are included under the federal government’s vaccine mandate for public servants, which was announced back in October and took effect Nov. 15. Those who refused were suspended without pay.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has spoken out in support of immunization, including in a video on the force’s website comparing the vaccine to body armour.
“It’s like body armour or a seatbelt for your lungs. It’s not a guarantee that you will never get sick, but if you do, it’s the reason you’ll survive,” Lucki said in the online message.
But the National Police Federation, which represents 20,000 RCMP members across the country, criticized the government for the mandate, and promised to support officers who refuse vaccination “as needed and appropriate.”
Source: With files from The Canadian Press