The City of Red Deer is considering whether it should make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for its 1,500 employees.
“We are still working on that and we will be working on that today and through the weekend. The city will make a determination early next week if we’re going to move that way,” Ken McMullen, the city’s director of emergency management, said Friday.
“Most certainly it is a decision that has a variety of opinions around it, in any environment, whether it’s in the public, in another workforce, or in our own workforce with the City of Red Deer.”
On Thursday the Alberta Public Service Commissioner announced that all of its 25,500 Alberta Public Service employees have until Nov. 30 to show proof of vaccination.
McMullen said the discussion had already started at the city. Many employers have also looked at whether to pull the trigger.
“The big cities — Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge — have all mandated it so it’s something we knew we would have to discuss at some point.”
He said Alberta Health Services has also mandated that its contract providers must be vaccinated, which includes Red Deer Emergency Services firefighter paramedics.
“So we have some staff, about 200 staff in the City of Red Deer, that are already mandated and are participating in the vaccine program.”
McMullen said the city manager has the authority to make the decision, and experts from city departments, including legal, human resources and operations, will assist in determining what the City of Red Deer will do.
Mandatory vaccination is a topic few other central Alberta municipalities in the area have discussed.
Sean Barnes, acting chief administrative officer at the Town of Blackfalds, said while there has been some discussion, no decision has been made.
Todd Vaughan, communications and community engagement co-ordinator with the City of Lacombe, said mandating vaccinations is not being discussed at city COVID-19 meetings, but could be discussed in the future.
“At this time the City of Lacombe is not requiring employees to be vaccinated,” Vaughan said.
The Town of Sylvan Lake said it is following the COVID-19 provincial guidelines.
“The Town of Sylvan lake respects people’s individual choices, and at this time, has not made vaccines mandatory for staff. Should vaccines become mandatory through a provincial or federal order, then the Town of Sylvan will comply with those orders,” said a statement from Sylvan Lake.
Todd Becker, CAO at the Town of Innisfail, said right now the town is researching the decisions of other municipalities.
“I would imagine this conversation will increase over time. It depends on numbers and what the province is doing. Right now we’re just trying to become more aware and ensuring that town employees and the public are served in the most safe means possible,” Becker said.