Wednesday March 24, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated at 2:40 pm | also 11:50 pm on March 27, 2021]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends
Cast harshly aside by the forces of the pandemic, the tourism industry today received something of mutually beneficial an olive branch from the provincial government in BC.
Their workers will be enfolded into the workings of the massive immunization clinics, using the ability of tourism personnel to greet and direct large groups of people in a positive mode.
About 1,400 tourism and hospitality workers are targeted for supporting the operations of mass vaccination clinics, as explained today by Premier John Horgan in a media availability at 12:30 pm, along with Dr Penny Ballem who is the executive lead for BC’s immunization rollout.
“This partnership will provide new jobs for people while contributing to BC’s already accelerated vaccine rollout,” it was explained.
This makes the BC Government a well-paying client to the besieged tourism industry that has pretty much lost all of its clientele during the pandemic that has required physical distancing (no gatherings, no crowds, no close contact in indoor spaces and certainly not visiting to remote communities).
“Generally in this program the employees will be paid what they were paid in their jobs previously, with full funding for employee wages coming from government and health authorities,” it was stated by the Ministry of Health after the news conference.
“The program will also support employers by providing 15% for employer overhead costs related to the program, such as HR costs and payroll. All community partners are working under the same contractual arrangements. Preliminary costs are still being finalized based on final planning and logistics information,” the Health Ministry stated.
Staff with particular skillsets:
Tourism and hospitality businesses have already begun to call and train hundreds of staff who have been laid off due to the pandemic. Workers from these industries will provide their expertise and logistical support as non-clinical staff at immunization clinics to help move people through the clinics efficiently and safely. Many of these workers will bring additional language skills as well.
Companies large and smaller:
From large companies like Air Canada, WestJet, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and CERES Terminals Canada in the airline sector to sports teams like the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Giants and Fraser Valley Bandits, to large operations like the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver and the BC Pavilion Corporation as well as sports-based organizations like Tourism Whistler and Pacific Destinations Services — and even the Canadian Red Cross — all of these will be making personnel available to help out with managing the flow of people at immunization clinics.
Human resources management:
This use of tourism personnel into immunization clinic management is a better cross-industry personnel fit than Horgan’s pitch last year to try and shift front-line tourism personnel into health care careers in long-term and home-based care.
Meeting strangers briefly and working a crowd — as is the case in mass-population tourism sector — is well applied to herding people arriving at a one-time unfamiliar scenario for a procedure (injection of a vaccine) that in itself might be daunting — especially to an older crowd.
This development in the use of human resources also shows how the overall immunization response — based until now on science and politics (in a balance that was destined to shift over time during the pandemic) — is blending into realms of everyday realities lived by everyday people… i.e. how these clinics operate with people in real-time in their individually lived experience.
Municipal venue owners are also helping operate some clinics with contributions of staff, furniture and supplies. Many of those workers (regardless of age) have also already received a vaccine shot, for safety reasons.
Immunization clinics are only now dealing with clients in their 80s, and the age-70s rollout appointments begin next week.
As of March 23, there have been 557,508 doses of COVID vaccine administered in BC (84,263 of those on Vancouver Island).
So far, about 10.9% of the adult population of 4.3 million in BC has received their first dose. Some vaccines have a two-dose profile (i.e. Pfizer and Moderna), while others (AstraZeneca, and also Johnson & Johnson when it becomes available in BC) require just one dose.
As of March 23, there are still 5,409 active cases of COVID-19 in BC (273 on Vancouver Island), and the positivity rate is still quite high (7.7 for BC and 3.5 on Vancouver Island).
To date there have been 93,253 cases of COVID-19 in BC (2,975 in Island Health) and 1,438 people have died in BC (28 in Island Health) as a direct result of the infection.
Serious infection is now being seen in younger people — even in their 30s — as the older population becomes vaccinated. The virus will continue to find human hosts in which to reproduce. The goal of public health is of course to achieve herd immunity (generally thought to be at least 60 to 70% immunization coverage) as explained over the past year by Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry.
Locations of Island Health immunization clinics: Island Social Trends article on the clinic rollout March 7, 2021 | direct link to Island Health clinic location list (will have regular updates)
BC CDC COVID-19 dashboard (updated Monday to Friday)