“We know the situation in the health care system, we know the pressure that those working in our health care system are under, same with education,” premier Tim Houston said Nov 18. “So every time we lose somebody it hurts, it does.”

HRM school buses may be impacted by mandatory proof of vaccine policy

After Nov 30 unvaccinated public staff will be place on unpaid leave.

The province says there may be school bus disruptions within the Halifax Regional Centre for Education due to the proof of COVID vaccination requirement, which comes into effect at the end of today.

After Nov 30, all public workers in education, health, home care, long-term care, day care, correctional services and more must prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to continue working. Those who do not report a vaccine proof will be placed on unpaid administrative leave beginning Dec 1. The province has been preparing to lose some workers in these sectors, though it’s not clear yet how many.

The department of education is expecting some disruptions in busing, particularly in the HRM, and in “small pockets” of other regions. To deal with the expected loss of staff, the regional centre for education is planning to assign drivers different routes or ask drivers to cover additional routes before or after school, which will cause potential delays for students. The province says families of children impacted by bus ride changes will be notified.

In long-term care, where staff shortages are already causing stress in some facilities, it’s possible that “even a small number of unvaccinated staff” may mean homes stop accepting new residents. In order to manage, long-term care homes may be required to bring in nurses from elsewhere or hire new part-time and casual employees.

Premier Tim Houston said in a statement he’s expecting few disruptions to service, given that vaccine rates are overall high. “All organizations have contingency plans, but most are anticipating they will not be needed,” reads a statement from the province. Still, the loss of any staff will have an impact.

“We know the situation in the health care system, we know the pressure that those working in our health care system are under, same with education,” Houston said Nov 18. “So every time we lose somebody it hurts, it does.”

But the bigger risk to Nova Scotians, Houston says, would be to expose potentially vulnerable people in hospitals, schools or long-term care to unvaccinated staff, which is not a risk he’s willing to take.

The province has released reported vaccination numbers from Nov 29, and will share final worker vaccination numbers by the end of the week. At this stage it’s not clear how many people will be off the job tomorrow. Some employers, like the IWK, Emergency Health Services, Hearing and Speech Nova Scotia and correctional services, are reporting vaccine status for 99 to 100 percent of staff.

Nova Scotia Health Authority has the lowest reporting rate to date, with 91.3 percent of staff disclosing vaccine status as of Monday. Overall, 99 percent of public workers have reported their vaccine status, and 99 percent of them have at least one dose of vaccine.

The province has issued 20 vaccination exemptions across 11 different sections of the civil service, out of the 183 exemption requests received. Two of these exemptions (out of 134 requests) are for human rights reasons. The other 18 exemptions (out of 49 requests) are medical exemptions.

Reported vaccine rates by employer as of Nov 29

-Nova Scotia Health Authority: 96.5 percent fully vaccinated (up from 95 percent on November 24), 3.1 percent partially vaccinated, 23,422 total employees with 91.3 percent reporting (up from 90 percent)

-IWK Health Centre: 99.2 percent (no change), 0.6 percent partially vaccinated, 3,573 total employees with 99.4 percent reporting (no change)

-Long-term care: 96.1 percent fully vaccinated (up from 95 percent), 2.1 percent partially vaccinated, 11,027 total employees with 98.0 percent reporting (up from 95 percent)

-Home care: 95.3 percent fully vaccinated (up from 95), three percent partially vaccinated, 3,821 total employees with 97.1 percent reporting (up from 97 percent)

-Education: 97.8 percent fully vaccinated (up from 97 percent), 1.3 percent partially vaccinated, 18,726 total employees with 96.4 percent reporting (up from 90 percent)

-Emergency Health Services (EHS): 98.8 percent fully vaccinated (no change), 0.8 percent partially vaccinated, 1,353 total employees with 100 percent reporting (up from 92 percent)

-Adult day programs (seniors and long-term care): 94.6 percent fully vaccinated (up from 94 percent), no employees partially vaccinated, 76 total employees with 97.4 percent reporting

-Correctional services: 98.7 percent fully vaccinated (no change), 0.8 percent partially vaccinated, 527 total employees with 99.4 percent reporting

-Disability Support Program and Child and Youth Caring Program: 93.9 percent fully vaccinated (up from 93 percent), 4.4 percent partially vaccinated, 8,269 total employees with 97.2 percent reporting

-Daycares: 94.5 percent full vaccinated (up from 93 percent), 3.8 percent partially vaccinated, with 97.1 percent of facilities reporting

-Hearing and Speech NS: 99.4 percent fully vaccinated (no change), no employees partially vaccinated, 173 total employees with 100 percent reporting.

About The Author

Lyndsay Armstrong

Lyndsay is a city reporter covering all things Halifax, health and COVID-19. She is a data journalist who has covered provincial politics for allNovaScotia.com and represented Nova Scotia in a national investigation into lead in drinking water with the Toronto Star and Global.

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