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Workforce shortage forces Canadian businesses to rethink Covid mandate

Staffing shortages have forced some of Canada’s businesses to drop vaccine mandates and adopt more flexible policies in terms of safety requirements.

Despite the strict vaccine measures recommended by the government and the potential risk to their reputation, many companies have recently switched to regular testing to avoid losing unvaccinated workers, research by Reuters shows.

It’s already difficult to find staff, let alone putting in a vaccine mandate,” said the chief executive of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Dan Kelly, adding that 20% of the pool of potential workers would be unavailable if mandates were to be strictly imposed.

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The Federation has previously warned the government about the challenges mandates would create for business, with official figures showing that the job vacancy rate in this year’s second quarter, which stands at 731,900, is the highest since comparable data became available in 2015.

Robert Eiser, the president of Luda Foods, a soup and sauce manufacturer, confessed that, with 14 open vacancies, he had no plans to restrict his hiring policy to only the vaccinated. However, it was not always easy for businesses to admit this, he said.

If you go out and say, ‘We are intentionally seeking to hire unvaccinated people,’ many customers equate that with you being anti-science and anti-safety,” said managing partner at Provident Communications Wojtek Dabrowski.

According to John Cappelli, the vice president of global recruitment firm Adecco, half his clients in Canada have adopted the vaccine mandate while the other half allow the unvaccinated to take regular Covid tests. However, he admits that the spread of the new Omicron variant might require tougher measures.

Under the Canadian constitution, healthcare is the provinces’ responsibility, so each province makes its own decisions when it comes to vaccine rules. Two of the country’s most populous, Ontario and Quebec, considered imposing a vaccine mandate on healthcare workers, but decided not to implement it, citing staff shortages.

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