Over the past few weeks, we have been in meetings with the BC Ministries of of Health and Industry to urge the government to consider better control over workplace hygiene and examine the potential for re-regulation. Working with our lobby providers, Western Policy Consultants, we have argued that the public would be most protected in a more controlled industry where competence in the trade can be assured through policy or regulation.
We have also asked if workers in the industry could qualify for early vaccination. We specifically asked Dr. Bonnie Henry in a meeting if (to start) personal service workers who go into care homes could qualify, she replied the challenge and priority is to have residents and staff vaccinated first (this was posted on our FaceBook page). Since then, the province announced today that more workers will qualify for early immunizations but did not include personal service workers. This is likely because, as they state, those who were added today needed to meet these qualifiers:
- the use of personal protective equipment and barriers can be challenging;
- outbreaks and clusters have occurred or are ongoing;
- workers must live or work in congregate settings; or
- maintaining the workforce for a critical service is necessary.
While we meet these criteria in some respects, the government does not consider personal services a critical industry. We have (which is a big bonus) not been the source of outbreaks of COVID-19. Furthermore, we are able to do our work with masks on. Finally, unlike chiropractors or registered massage therapists, we are not a regulated industry and therefore anyone can claim to work in a salon, spa, or barbershop to jump the queue.
Like the restaurant industry, the personal service industry was not included in the list of accelerated sectors. We spoke with Ian Tostenson, President and CEO of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association who is equally eager to get their members vaccinated sooner than later. Our ongoing ask of the province will be to fast-track personal service workers with the same logic as the BCRFA – to protect workers, to protect jobs, and to give clients confidence in being able to return to salons, spas, and barbershops.
The good news is this – the province has worked very closely with us along the way, along with WorkSafe BC, to keep our industry open and operating at all levels. We did open two weeks early after the initial shutdowns after a lot of hard work with the province to assure them of protocols and the adjustments made to BeautySafe to train specifically around COVID-19.
We will keep you updated as we continue to ask the province to consider our industry for some early vaccinations. In the meantime, stay safe and keep operating with workplace hygiene as a top priority.
See the full PDF of the new accelerated industries here.
See the updated schedule and information here.