As discussion of and speculation around a vaccine mandate for teachers and school district employees continues, the president of the BC Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) is absolutely correct.
If there is going to be a mandate, the province should not be offloading the responsibility for it on school districts.
“Any vaccine mandate would need to be provincially implemented and done equitably,” said Teri Mooring BCTF president. “We can’t have unequal treatment of workers in the public education system.”
BC Premier John Horgan’s response that while the province funds schools, the school districts are the actual employer, is frankly a cop-out.
While technically correct, it is only the province that has the authority to implement such a policy, and even then it is unclear whether it would pass constitutional muster.
Throughout the pandemic, with the possible exception of the initial lockdown in the spring of 2020, B.C. has tried to take a relatively soft approach.
Balancing the public good against individual rights and freedoms is a delicate dance.
But at some point, the buck has to stop being passed, and that point is with the premier.
What is most puzzling about the premier’s reluctance to take responsibility for what is clearly provincial jurisdiction (education and health care) is that the unions in both those fields have said they would not oppose a vaccine mandate.
Furthermore, polling has consistently indicated the vast majority of British Columbians support mandatory vaccination for certain professions including teachers.
Politically, at least, this issue appears to be a no-brainer. When was the last time we ever saw 80 per cent of B.C. residents agree on anything?
So, why is the provincial government treating this as such a political hot potato?
“There is a responsibility for elected representatives who put their hand up and said, `I’d like to be on the school board’ to inform themselves about the best way to protect their employees and the children within their district.”
The responsibility lies with the elected representative who put his hand up and said, ‘I’d like to be the premier of this province,’ to stop sitting on the fence.