FortisBC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate Policy

January 7, 2022

To: All MoveUP members at FBC

Your union received the company’s COVID19 Vaccination Policy yesterday after being put on notice of a Section 54 – Adjustment Plan on December 15, 2021.  The Section 54 notification identified that the company was going to be implementing a vaccination policy in the new year.

We had an opportunity to meet today in an attempt to understand the company’s policy and the impact that it is going to have on our members. This is one of many discussions that will be had regarding the policy, however, we did identify to the company that the timeline associated to the Section 54 notification is short of the 60 days that is required by the Code before they can implement the policy.  They indicated they would review.

We have raised various questions and are waiting responses at this point and do not have much to offer at this time.

Generally, the legal opinion that we received regarding various BC employers’ vaccination policies, is that these policies would likely be viewed as reasonable by an arbitrator.  This opinion is based on the balancing of the employer’s obligation of ensuring a safe workplace against an employee’s right to bodily integrity and employee’s privacy.

We have and will continue to work with members who have identified that they are in need of an accommodation on the basis of a protected ground.  Please know that these accommodations and/or exemptions will need to be supported by objective evidence.  If you believe you require an accommodation, please raise this with the Company immediately.

What is Going to Happen Next

We will continue to discuss the policy with the company and in consultation with our legal counsel will determine the reasonableness of FortisBC’s policy and will take action if the policy is unlawful.   However, like any employer policy, these policies must be reasonable in the circumstances, and may not be arbitrary or unlawfully discriminatory.

If it is found that portions of the policy are to be considered not reasonable, then we will be filing grievances, but the grievance process is slow, and make no mistake, the company will be going ahead with their policy.  Please do not have the misunderstanding that relief will be achieved anytime soon.  The grievance and arbitration process can take months if not years.

Just as we are relying on scientific and medical experts to inform us on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, we will rely on legal experts to inform us on the legality of a policy mandating vaccines in your workplace.

Friends, there is no magic wand that will stop this policy from being implemented.  Members who have chosen to not be vaccinated or choose not to share their vaccination status with the Company, need to understand that reality and make plans to be without income very shortly.

The situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is always changing, and the reasonableness of FortisBC’s policy may change with it.  We are committed to reviewing the policy for reasonableness depending on factors such as case numbers, hospitalizations, and public health orders.

We will keep you updated as matters progress and look forward to providing you with more information once we have more information.

In solidarity,

Cindy A. Lee, Union Representative

File Number: 21-FBC-BLTN- COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate Policy - Jan 7
Union Label: CL:hb usw2009


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