• Mandatory vaccination debate continues to be divided

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    In recent weeks, federal and provincial governments have introduced mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for their employees, health-care workers and within sectors like the federally regulated transportation sector. As we found our way through each of the four waves and sought to end the pandemic through vaccination, a vigorous debate has waged on this year across the country between those in favour and those opposed to vaccination.

    Mandatory vaccination will bring with it many new elements for businesses to consider, so we polled over 300 people from our online insight community, Atlantic IMPRESSIONS.

    We asked a simple question: whether vaccination should, or should not be, required.

    The responses showed a wide range of divide on the issue. In fact, only 43 per cent gave a firm yes or no on the issue. Of those who were resolved, 13 per cent believe mandatory vaccination should not be required at all and 30 per cent believe it should be required for everyone.

    For business, the return to normal will require absolute clarity and predictability around regulations and expectations so they can get back to business.

    The remaining 57 per cent of respondents selected from a broad range of groups who they believed should be required to vaccinate. The most popular responses were: health-care workers (44 per cent); travellers (on airline, marine vessels, trains), educators and protective service providers (43 per cent); federal and provincial employees and officials, and long-term health care residents (40 per cent); service sector workers (restaurants, retail, hospitality, etc.) and military (38 per cent). Bottoming out the responses were students (35 per cent); seniors (33 per cent) and all businesses and their employees (28 per cent). These results are available on Atlantic IMPRESSIONS.

    So, the debate wages on.

    But while there may not be clear consensus on the issue of mandatory vaccination, we know we must continue to work together in Atlantic Canada — respecting public health measures and working to curb the spread of the virus. Because a desire to get back to normal is the common thread we continue to hear from people, businesses and communities throughout the region.

    Normal? While that seems a distant memory, it really means a return of confidence among people, employees, consumers, and others to resume the activities they once enjoyed free from concern of contracting the virus.

    For business, the return to normal will require absolute clarity and predictability around regulations and expectations so they can get back to business. But that will require finding ways to instil confidence in and motivating people to return to work and fill the labour shortages caused during the pandemic.

    It will be important to make sure that those tasked with enforcing new restrictions or measures are supported from both an execution and a cost standpoint. Right now, struggling businesses cannot easily absorb additional costs, further restricting growth and recovery, and delaying the return to normal.

    While government will chart the course that shapes policy and protocols, ultimately it will be businesses that lead the charge in job creation and growth as our economy moves to recover from the pandemic. The private sector is familiar with this role, but it will be reliant on government to ensure that our any impacts to business from regulation to taxation support a vibrant economy.

    Sheri Somerville, CEO
    Atlantic Chamber of Commerce

    Saltwire Network