The National Police Federation says inoculating its members will ensure the safety of both officers and the communities they serve. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)

The National Police Federation says inoculating its members will ensure the safety of both officers and the communities they serve. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)

COVID-19 vaccinations for RCMP officers should be a priority, union tells officials

Federal, provincial officials asked consider Mounties for priority access to COVID-19 vaccines

The union representing front-line RCMP officers is asking federal and provincial officials to consider Mounties for priority access to COVID-19 vaccination.

The National Police Federation says inoculating its members will ensure the safety of both officers and the communities they serve.

Letters have gone out to provincial premiers as well as justice and health ministers, “to express our concern about rolling out the vaccines in a consistent, safe and appropriate manner,” federation president Brian Sauve said in a statement.

In a January letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Sauve emphasized that the federation supports prompt vaccination of health and social-service workers.

But he added that RCMP officers cannot always keep a safe distance from others during public interactions, resulting in close contact with people each day.

Sauve said it means members are often at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.

“They conduct in-person COVID-19 quarantine compliance checks and they enforce the Public Health Orders. They do so in many settings, including communities in crisis where the rate of infection has surged,” Sauve wrote.

In northern and remote communities, RCMP officers have expanded duties beyond traditional policing roles, such as responding to health emergencies and transporting patients, he noted.

“The risk that the pandemic has brought upon our members has resulted in tragic instances,” Sauve said in the letter.

“As an example, one of our Indigenous RCMP constables posted in a northern First Nation community in Manitoba contracted COVID-19 last fall and lost three family members as a result.”

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor says new city cops could patrol with RCMP by mid-2020

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has identified groups for early vaccination, including those at high risk for severe illness and death and workers essential to the COVID-19 response.

The RCMP says provinces and territories are responsible for the planning, allocation an distribution of vaccinations through the health-care system.

“Our partners recognize the important role we play in keeping our communities safe,” said Cpl. Caroline Duval, a force spokeswoman.

“Essential workers, including policing organizations, have been identified amongst the priority groups given their increased risk of exposure and the importance of maintaining essential services to communities.”

Vaccine distribution may look “a little bit different” in each jurisdiction and there may be variations that account for special vulnerabilities, like the remoteness of some communities, she added.

Sauve said while essential workers have been identified federally, provinces are being allowed to ignore these guidelines, “which speaks directly to the inconsistency we’re seeing, and calling out across Canada.”

READ ALSO: Surrey Police Service a ‘done deal,’ mayor insists

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
The Port Alice pulp mill site is being ‘recycled’

Bankruptcy company is overseeing de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring.

Port Hardy Senior Citizens’ Society president Rosaline Glynn holds up the certificate from B.C. Premier John Horgan next to Loaves & Fishes director Peter Sinclair, vice president Kris Huddlestan, and Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy council to nominate Glynn for the Order of British Columbia

Glynn’s nomination was endorsed unanimously by council.

Emergency personnel crews on scene assisting BCEHS with patient care. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Speed and alcohol believed to be the cause of Saturday night car crash

More information on the crash could potentially be released at a later date.

Nootka Sound RCMP responded to a workplace fatality report south of Gold River on Monday morning. (Campbell River Mirror photo)
One dead in accident at Western Forest Product’s TFL 19 logging site in Gold River

The RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the incident

North Island Gazette file photo of Port Hardy council
Council discusses Highland Manor sale

Port Hardy council debates what approach to take to Highland Manor after sale.

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
Money to burn: burglars torch North Saanich high school ATM

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school after early morning break-and-enter

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read