The Regina Police Service is set to modify what it requires for employees to show up to work.
In an interview with CBC News, Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said the force will implement new rules around COVID-19 testing and proof of vaccination.
“We’re going to, basically, a mandatory vaccination,” Bray said.
Employees with the Regina Police Service (RPS) will need to be vaccinated — and share their status with the RPS — or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before the start of their work week.
Employees who have not provided proof of vaccination will have to arrange testing for themselves on their own time and at their own expense.
Previously, RPS was providing rapid tests for employees, with no associated costs.
The new policy will go into effect on Jan. 10.
A change in policy
In an interview with CBC News, Bray said that the policy around vaccinating officers has been a balancing act.
“It comes to how do you roll this out in a way that you balance not only the the personal rights of individuals, with the expectation of a community,” he said.
Vaccination and testing has been something RPS handled separately from the City of Regina since vaccinations became available.
Bray says that’s there wasn’t any calculated reasoning beyond that the police normally function independently of the City of Regina.
“Sometimes that even allows us to be a little more nimble,” he said.
Saskatchewan expanded its vaccination requirements to include police officers in April, allowing them to jump ahead of the deployment to the general population which was based around age.
Now, the new policy shift would bring RPS in line with the policy currently used by the city.
Bray said the shift will mean that officers are now bearing the cost.
“I know that will probably even get us a little bit higher in terms of the percentage of people vaccinated,” Bray said.
When the City of Regina required its own employees to begin covering COVID-19 tests out of pocket, it saw an increase in vaccination rates.
The city confirmed to CBC in December that of those who were unvaccinated at the start of October, 60 per cent chose to get vaccinated or left their jobs by the time they began requiring employees to cover testing costs.
In a statement, RPS confirmed that 97 per cent of all staff are now vaccinated.