A dump truck works near the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near the city of Fort McMurray, Alta., on June 1, 2014. The parliamentary budget office says most Canadian households will receive more money back from the federal government's carbon-tax scheme than it will cost them. The assertion is contained in a report published by the PBO this morning, nearly four months after a majority of Canadian voters cast their ballots in favour of parties that favoured a carbon tax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

CNRL to require oilsands workers to be fully vaccinated or undergo rapid COVID-19 test

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. will now require unvaccinated workers heading to oil sands mining sites to undergo rapid COVID-19 tests.

The company confirmed the new policy came into effect Friday in an email statement.

They said all workers heading to oil sands mining sites will need to be fully vaccinated and if not, will need to receive a negative COVID-19 test.

“If we are unable to confirm immunization status, personnel can participate in our rapid testing program as an alternative. We are taking these steps to further enhance the strong safety measures already in place to protect our workforce and the communities where we operate,” CNRL said in a statement.

The company added it continues to have additional health measures at all their operating areas including documented daily health checks, screening protocols prior to boarding company transportation, physical distancing measures in our camp and dining room facilities and mandatory mask-wearing while indoors.

CNRL’s Horizon oilsands mine in northeastern Alberta was the site of the province’s largest COVID-19 workplace outbreak earlier this year.

Perry Berkenpas, executive director of the industry group Oil Sands Community Alliance, said vaccination rates among oilsands workers are as high as 75 to 80 per cent thanks to mass vaccination clinics held at worksites earlier this year.

But he said many companies will continue using rapid testing as an added layer of safety.

“In this case CNRL’s made a choice in one direction — I haven’t heard where others are going on that yet,” Berkenpas said. “But rapid testing will be used where they think it’s necessary.”

With files from the Canadian Press.