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Getting to Vaccination Higher Ground

Good morning, whether you’re celebrating Women’s Equality, your “Webmistress,” Burgers or Cherry Popsicles.

Yesterday I updated you on US and eastern CdnPSE vaccine mandates (see “Getting Off the Vaccine Fence”) since last week’s summary (“A Flood of Vax Mandates”).  Now there are 70+ CdnPSEs with vaccine mandates, and a veritable landslide in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Manitoba.

Today, I complete the cross-country summary with a look at vax mandates in Manitoba and westward – and some late-breaking updates from the east. (Because this is a fast-moving story that just won’t sit still!)

As always, if you want to see all the details in chronological order since I started tracking this issue in March, consult the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies. And I am now updating the data in my CdnPSE and COVID19 spreadsheet in real time.



PS: Eastern CdnPSE

Yesterday, some new vaccine mandates appeared in Eastern Canada. (Also see “Zero Tolerance” below for some significant new trends.)

Dalhousie U announced yesterday that it will require everyone on campus to be fully vaccinated against COVID19, or submit to rapid testing twice weekly. The requirement also applies to U of King’s C students who access the Dal campus. NS PHO, Labour and AdvEd have confirmed they will allow NSpses to establish their own requirements, above and beyond those in the current PSE framework. Masks will continue to be required through September, and potentially later into the term.  Dal  |  CBC  |  Globe & Mail  |  Global News

Holland College (PEI) announced yesterday that it will require mandatory full vaccination of all staff, faculty and students by Oct 15. Exemptions will be granted for medical, religious, or cultural reasons only, and those exempted will be tested weekly and required to wear masks at all times on campus. (Masks are encouraged, but not mandatory, for those who are fully vaxxed.)  Holland



Political Hot Potato

South of the border, Republicans have backed themselves into a corner, supporting unpopular positions on mask mandates ad vaccination while 69% of Americans think masks should be mandatory in classrooms, and 55% think college students should be required to get vaccinated. (And 77% think Republican governors threatening to withhold school funding over mask mandates are in the wrong.)

Here in Canada, vaccines are less controversial, but with a federal election campaign underway, the nuances of the issue are still hot…


Party Positions

Last week, of course, the Liberal government announced mandatory vaccination for federal public servants, and employees in federally-regulated sectors, effective this Fall. (Although strangely this won’t include Elections Canada poll workers.) NDP leader Jagmeet Singh caught flack from PSAC when he said he would “discipline” public servants for refusing vaccination. Conservative leader Erin O’Toole says he would instead give unvaxxed employees and passengers the option of taking daily rapid tests for COVID19 (the position most CdnPSEs are taking). A recent Abacus Data poll found that 64% of NDP voters strongly support a vaccine mandate, compared to 60% of Liberal voters and just 45% of Conservative voters. Apparently Justin Trudeau is taking the opportunity to differentiate his platform, reportedly suppressing a government memo that would offer public servants the testing alternative, and instead merely promising “consequences” for unvaxxed workers. Trudeau is also challenging Conservative candidates to reveal their vaccination status, while O’Toole is merely requiring unvaxxed candidates to take daily COVID19 tests. (In Ontario, premier Doug Ford is threatening to expel 2 MPPs from caucus for their vaccine hesitancy.)  CBC  |  Globe & Mail  |  CTV


Public Support

A recent Maru Public Opinion poll found that 70% of Canadians want a provincially-issued vaccine status card (like a driver’s license, but not a passport), and 66% support banning unvaxxed students from CdnPSE classrooms. Vax passports are particularly popular in Quebec (74% in favour), Manitoba (75%), Saskatchewan (75%), and BC (71%). Support is even stronger among the oldest and most-educated Canadians.  Toronto Sun  |  CityNews




73% of Manitoba

Thursday night, major MBpses announced immunization mandates as a “united front.” (Only the announcement from Red River College made it across my desk in time for Friday’s roundup.) Now, 8 out of 11 MBpses (73%) have announced vax mandates in some forms, and the other 3 are reconsidering…


No Government Mandate

On Tuesday, MB’s deputy chief PHO described modelling that predicts ICUs will be overrun again later this year without stricter measures and more vaccinations, thanks to the Delta variant. In response, the province has reinstated its mask mandate in all indoor public places (including schools), and announced it will require all front-line provincial employees who work with vulnerable populations, from K-12 teachers and doctors to prison guards, must be fully vaxxed by Oct 31, or face COVID19 testing 3x weekly. MB’s chief PHO is directing businesses and organizations to follow the province’s lead on mandating vaccinations. The AvEd minister emphasized, though, that there will be no provincewide PSE vax mandate, instead respecting institutional autonomy.


“We need to get to higher ground to avoid the tsunami.”Brian Pallister, Premier of Manitoba



Assiniboine CC will “generally” require students, staff, contractors and campus visitors to have 2 doses of COVID19 vaccine, with exemptions or periodic testing as an alternative. (The policy is still pending board approval.) Mask mandates continue throughout the term.  ACC  |  CBC  |  Education News Canada

Canadian Mennonite U will require all students, staff and faculty who will be on campus this Fall to have a 1st dose of COVID19 vaccine by Aug 31, and a 2nd by Sep 30. Exemptions will be considered in accordance with the Human Rights Code of Manitoba. The campus remains closed to visitors.  Toronto Star   |  CBC  |  CTV  |  Education News Canada


“I find it helpful to think about ‘returning to community’ rather than ‘getting back to normal.’ …It’s now tough to shift our thinking from, ‘We need to stay apart,’ to ‘It’s safe to be together.’”Cheryl Pauls, President, Canadian Mennonite U


uManitoba will require students, staff, faculty and campus visitors to have their 1st dose of COVID19 vaccine by Sep 22, and their 2nd by Oct 31, to attend on campus. (The student union expressed “overwhelming support.”) UM will be increasing on-campus activity throughout the Fall, and bringing back all students and staff by Jan 2022.  UM Today  |  Toronto Star

uWinnipeg will require students, staff and faculty to show “one-time” proof of full vaccination to attend classes. (Campus remains closed to the public.) Medical exemptions will be offered, but those “simply unwilling” will have to show proof of a negative COVID19 test, or continue with remote learning. Recent surveys suggest 92% of students are fully vaxxed, and 72% support a vax mandate.  Toronto Star   |  CBC  |  Education News Canada

UC of the North will require students, staff, faculty and campus visitors to have 2 doses of COVID19 vaccine by Nov 1 to attend classes.  Toronto Star   |  CBC

Providence UC announced later in the day on Friday that it will also require staff, faculty and students to be fully vaccinated against COVID19, or provide proof of negative testing at “reasonable and appropriate intervals.” President Kenton Anderson apologizes for the disruptive change in policy, citing potential “legal ramifications,” and explaining that “we now face a legal and moral situation that risks the viability of our university and its existence.” A finalized decision will be made official by the Board of Governors, and the policy will take effect “at some point later this fall.”  Providence  |  Winnipeg Free Press


“We believe that vaccination will be the quickest way out of this pandemic. We also believe that being fully vaccinated is showing love to our neighbours.”Nicholas Greco, Provost pro tem, Providence UC



Some MBpses have yet to make a decision…

Booth UC is not planning to hold in-person classes this Fall, and should have a decision later this week about vaccinations for those who come to campus.  Winnipeg Free Press

Brandon U “strongly encourages” vaccines and “expects” most students, faculty and staff to be fully vaxxed, but has not yet implemented a requirement. (BU has reportedly been “slammed” for this position, particularly by the faculty association.) BU will be offering walk-in vaccinations during the first week of class, and says it is “developing a vaccine policy that will support our transition to being a fully vaccinated campus.” BU “will implement a vaccine policy in the coming year.”  BU News  |  Winnipeg Free Press  |  BU News

U Saint-Boniface is reportedly still considering a vaccine mandate, but needs to consider accommodations and exemptions.  CBC

Steinbach Bible College is still discussing its stance towards a vaccine mandate, in view of the other announcements made on Thursday.  Winnipeg Free Press



43% of Saskatchewan

Last week I mentioned that uSaskatchewan and uRegina had announced vaccine mandates. Since then, they have been joined by Saskatchewan Polytechnic, making 3 out of 7 on my list for the province (43%). The provincial government has indicated it will not mandate vaccines or even indoor masks…

Saskatchewan Polytechnic announced Thursday that it will require all students, employees and visitors to be fully vaxxed against COVID19 before coming to campus. First doses are required by Sep 17, and 2nd doses by Oct 22. People who cannot be vaccinated will be required to submit “regular and frequent negative COVID19 testing and daily health checks.”  SKPoly  |  Saskatoon Star-Phoenix  |  CBC

uSaskatchewan president Peter Stoicheff recorded a message to support the vaccine requirement announced last week. As of Sep 7, all students, faculty and staff will be required to show proof of at least 1 dose of a WHO-approved vaccine, and 2 doses by Oct 18, before coming to campus. Those unwilling or unable to get vaccinated must provide regular and frequent negative COVID19 test results, and submit a daily symptom checklist. UofS is responding to the growing threat of the Delta variant, the 4th wave of the pandemic, and the plateau in vaccinations among 18-29-year-olds.  uSask  |  Prince Albert Daily Herald


“The science is clear and overwhelming: vaccinations are the clearest path towards beating COVID19 and its dangerous variants. Without these measures, unvaccinated individuals on campus jeopardize their own health and the health of others, and will disrupt in-person classes and campus activities for everyone.”Peter Stoicheff, President, uSaskatchewan


Northlands College president Guy Penney announced a campus mask mandate in his “Welcome Back” video, effective Aug 23, and indicated a vaccine mandate is “something we are studying and looking at very closely,” but no firm decision has been made yet. “Masking does work.”  YouTube

Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology announced yesterday that it will not be requiring students, staff or visitors to campus to be double-vaxxed to start the school year this September, but masks will be mandatory in all public areas, and social distancing is encouraged where possible. A spokesperson suggested that SIIT may still implement a double-vax mandate “at the beginning of 2022,” or at the direction of the PHO.  Global News



32% of Alberta

Last week, 3 major AB universities (uAlberta, uCalgary, and uLethbridge) announced jointly rapid testing requirements with an exemption for those who are fully vaxxed (a subtle reframing of the Ontario approach designed to save face for Alberta politicians). Since then, mandatory testing policies have doubled, so we effectively have gone from 3 to 6 ABpses with a vax mandate, and 2 more exploring the possibility (so at least 32% of institutions in the province)…

Alberta U of the Arts announced Friday mandatory COVID19 rapid testing for everyone entering campus, except for those who are fully vaccinated. “If you refuse to comply with rapid testing and do not have an approved exemption, you will immediately have your access to campus revoked.” Face masks remain mandatory on campus.  AUarts

MacEwan U announced last Thursday a rapid testing program for September, “just as soon as specific details can be confirmed.” Anyone fully vaxxed will be exempt, with some accommodations available under the Alberta Human Rights Act. MacEwan is conducting a quick survey of the campus community, like many other CdnPSEs.  MacEwan

NAIT says it is not making vaccines mandatory, but is “strongly encouraging” vaccination and hosting clinics on Sep 22 and 23. NAIT is also reportedly “determining how it could introduce rapid testing.”  Edmonton Journal

NorQuest College announced Tuesday new COVID19 policies, including mandatory rapid testing for all those coming to campus, and exemptions for those who are fully vaxxed. Those who prefer not to disclose their vax status will need to regularly complete a rapid screening test and receive a negative result before they participate in in-person activities on campus.  Education News Canada

Red Deer Polytechnic is imposing mask and distancing requirements, daily self-assessments and hand hygiene, but says only that people should “consider receiving a COVID19 vaccine, as it suits an individual’s health and wellness circumstances.” RDC will not implement rapid testing of individuals, whether they are symptomatic or not.  Education News Canada


“Freedom isn’t free… Canadians are able to choose whether or not they want to be vaccinated. However, they’re not free of the consequences of these choices.” Jean-Christophe Boucher, associate prof, uCalgary School of Public Policy


Despite urging by health practitioners and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Jason Kenney is steadfastly refusing to facilitate or accept vaccine passports. That is not true west of the Rockies…



Almost Nil in BC

While generally BC PHO Bonnie Henry has led an exemplary response to COVID19 with plenty of foresight, it appears she has succumbed to political pressure lately, prematurely loosening health restrictions – and now reinstating them, first in the Interior and now across the province. The province has imposed a vaccine requirement on PSE students in residence, but blocked institutions from creating their own vaccine requirements. Although that didn’t stop private Squamish university, Quest…


Vaccine Passports

On Monday, BC premier John Horgan, health minister Adrian Dix and PHO Bonnie Henry announced that a new “BC vaccine card” will be mandatory for anyone age 12+ to access some “non-essential businesses” like restaurants, fitness centres, casinos, conferences, theatres, concerts and sporting events (but not places of worship). One dose of a COVID19 vaccine will be required for customers and patrons as of Sep 13, and 2 doses by Oct 24. The “card” will be available as a smartphone download. The measures don’t apply to employees, and will apply “as relevant” to BCpses and campus student housing – but notably there will be NO exemptions: those with medical reasons they cannot be immunized will simply be unable to attend these discretionary events. Testing will not apply as an alternative.  CTV  |  CBC  |  Globe & Mail  |  BC Gov


“It’s unfair and disrespectful for people that are not vaccinated — that have no intention of being vaccinated — to hold the rest of the community at ransom.” John Dooley, Mayor, Nelson BC



Mask Mandates Redux

Although the BC government emphasizes that vaccines will not be required of students at any level in order to attend classes in person, it announced Tuesday that masks are again mandatory for students from grade 4 right through PSE, including in class. (This contradicts the assurances made Jul 1, that no masks would be required this Fall.) Although many indoor gatherings are limited to 50% capacity, PSE classrooms appear to face no physical distancing requirements. (So far, just 56% of people aged 18-29 in BC are fully vaxxed.)  Globe & Mail |  Vancouver Sun  |  Education News Canada 


NO Vax Mandates

PHO Bonnie Henry has directed BCpse that they can require staff and faculty to get immunized, but cannotmandate vaccinations for students other than those in campus residences or studying health sciences in a healthcare setting. She believes assigned seating and masks will be sufficient risk mitigation, as evidenced by data from K-12 classrooms.  Globe & Mail  |  Global News


“We don’t believe there is a need for a vaccine mandate for students to receive in-class education in post-secondary institutions.”Bonnie Henry, BC Chief PHO



Student & Faculty Concerns

Many BCpse students and faculty feel the mask mandate doesn’t go far enough to create a safe environment on campus, and object to the province’s effective ban on campus vaccine mandates. Almost 3,000 have signed a petition calling for mandatory shots, and some claim immunocompromised students are effectively being blocked from PSE. uVictoria faculty association president Lynne Marks argues that BC’s position on vax mandates, drawn from the example of K-12 classrooms, “reflects a dramatic lack of understanding as to how PSE works” when universities have 300+ students in a classroom, and students move between multiple classes a day. Cole Evans, president of UBC’s Alma Mater Society, doesn’t understand why theatre attendance requires a passport but lecture theatres don’t.  Vancouver Sun  |  Globe & Mail  |  CBC



BCpses are starting to announce implications of the BC Vaccine Card for their campuses…

BCIT clarified that the new mask requirement will apply to all indoor public areas on all BCIT campuses, including classrooms, labs, shops, washrooms, study areas, hallways, lobbies, and stairwells. Proof of vaccination will be required for residents in student housing as of Sep 7. The BC Vaccine Card will be required as of Sep 13 for access to indoor venues including gyms, restaurants, sporting events and concerts. More updates were expected this week.  BCIT Commons  |  BCIT Commons

UBC says the BC Vaccine Card will be required as of Sep 13, for participation in varsity and intramural sports and student clubs, and access to indoor ticketed sporting events, indoor and patio restaurant dining, fitness centres, and conferences. Proof of vaccination to live in on-campus housing will be required Sep 7, although some transition period will be allowed for students coming from outside BC and Canada. UBC president Santa Ono adds that the MAEST and the COVID19 Advisory Committee are “convening now to provide clarity and update the COVID19 Return to Campus Guidelines.”  UBC News  |   Daily Hive

Capilano U shared the provincial PHO orders on Tuesday, imposing a mask mandate on all indoor spaces and proof of vaccination for student housing, varsity athletics, gym use, indoor concerts and sports competitions. President Paul Dangerfield adds that “Discussions regarding temporary measures over and above the updated Orders are ongoing and involve the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, public health, the University’s administration, the Capilano Faculty Association, MoveUp and the Capilano Students’ Union.”  CapU

Coast Mountain College announced Tuesday the provincial mask mandate and proof-of-vaccine requirement for some non-essential services on campus.  CMC

U Fraser Valley announced yesterday the provincial mask mandate and vaccination requirement for campus housing (1st dose by Sep 7, 2nd dose by Oct 24), and a Sep 13 deadline for first doses in order to access athletics, gyms, or campus eateries.  Chilliwack Progress

College of New Caledonia president Dennis Johnson told local media yesterday that the PHO orders mean “the return to campus for this fall is still happening,” with much more in-person learning. Masks will be mandatory, “but that is the only certain thing” right now. Requirements of proof of vaccination for student residence or non-essential activities are still being determined.  CKPG Today

Okanagan College president Neil Fassina updated the campus community Tuesday about the “significant and far-reaching new health orders and guidance that will affect us.” His description of the vaccination requirement for students in residence and the BC Vaccine Card for access to discretionary facilities echoes that of the other BCpses. He also explains that the RTC Guidelines are being revised, and that OC will adapt its Communicable Disease Plan and other protocols once that has been received. Vaccine clinics will be held on campus Sep 7.  OC News


“These are more challenging times than we had hoped to find ourselves in as September approaches… With luck, these new measures that are being put in effect now will significantly and swiftly improve conditions in the region and across the province.”Neil Fassina, President, Okanagan College


uVictoria will likely require the BC Vaccine Card for access to campus gyms and fitness centres, pubs and patios, indoor club events, ticketed sporting events, indoor theatre events and concerts, parties, conferences and workshops. Varsity athletes and the 2,100 students living in residence (more than double last year) will need to be vaxxed, as will health science students doing practica in healthcare settings. uVic will have a vaccination clinic on-campus.  The Martlet


“It’s making UVic safer for getting drunk on campus, but not for learning on campus.”Erin Hartley, 3rd year visual arts student, uVictoria



One private BC university has gone further, aligning its approach with that of institutions in other provinces…

Quest U announced Monday that COVID19 vaccines will be required for all students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors beginning Aug 26. Quest faculty and staff associations had been urging the move, made more urgent by the Delta variant driving a 4th wave of the pandemic just in time for Fall term. 1st doses will be required by Aug 26, and 2nd doses by Nov 15. Those unable or unwilling to get vaxxed must provide weekly negative COVID19 test results to access campus.  Quest



Zero Tolerance

While ~70 CdnPSEs (by my count) have now adopted a “vax or test” requirement (allowing those with or without an exemption on medical or protected human rights grounds to opt for frequent COVID19 testing instead of getting their shots), a few are going even further…

Carleton U clarified Tuesday those without an exemption who refuse to be vaxxed will be banned from in-person activities on campus.  Carleton  |  Global  |  CTV

Seneca College, the first CdnPSE to institute a campuswide vaccine requirement, has also been clear that there will be no exceptions for medical or religious reasons. As president David Agnew explains in a Toronto Star op-ed, “Human rights legislation obliges us to offer vaccination exemptions on the basis of creed. That right has been twisted by a fringe that uses social media to promote pseudo-science and selfish individualism, claiming constitutional cover.” The alternative to vaccination is online study.  Toronto Star


“The foundation of every public health strategy to defeat a virus is vaccinations. Full stop.”David Agnew, President, Seneca College


Ontario Tech U clarified yesterday that only those who are fully-vaxxed, officially exempt, or partially-vaxxed with proof of a negative rapid test and a plan to get a 2nd dose, will be allowed on campus between Sep 3 and Oct 17. From Oct 18 onward, only those completely vaxxed or officially exempt will be allowed on campus.  OnTech

Western U announced yesterday (along with its affiliates Huron, Brescia, and King’s) that rapid tests will no longer be acceptable in place of vaccination for campus access after Sep 7, “except under rare exemptions” on medical or human rights grounds. Those who “simply choose not to be vaccinated” will not be permitted on campus.  Western News  |  CBC  |  CTV

York U also clarified yesterday that it will require proof of full vaccination or an official exemption, submitted through the YU Screen tool by Sep 7, from anyone in the university community intending to access campus. Until Oct 19, those who are not yet fully vaxxed may submit proof of a negative COVID19 test result instead.  York



With more #ONpses citing the COMOH guidance, and considering the complexity and expense of testing all unvaxxed people on campus twice weekly, I suspect we’re going to see a wave of similar policies cascade across the province shortly…





Usually I share short higher ed commercials or YouTube videos in this section, but when literally EVERYONE is talking about a new miniseries, I obviously have to mention it, ICYMI…


Sandra Oh as “The Chair”

I’m not always the biggest fan of Ottawa-born Sandra Oh, I confess, but she definitely brings to life the role of a besieged single parent and incoming English Department Chair at the fictional Pembroke U in the new 6-episode, 3-hour Netflix series, “The Chair.” There is plenty of wry humour (and even slapstick) in this satire, bordering on painful truth, whether you’re concerned about the future of the humanities, gender equity, ageism, managerialism in the academy, donor meddling, enrolment management, the risks of social media, academic freedom, reputation management or cancel culture. (It also, as Sophie Gilbert puts it, “allows people with an English degree to feel fleetingly relevant.”) The portrayal of politics at a “lower-tier ivy” is pretty convincing, aside from perhaps exaggerated rampant alcohol abuse and sexual promiscuity that reminds me of a campus novel by David Lodge (say, Small World from 1984). And the dialogue has gems like “the world is burning and we’re sitting here worried about our endowment,” or “stop saying ‘gag order’!” As Judy Bermanputs it, “The show works as well as it does because it’s richly observed, wittily scripted, brilliantly cast and subtly acted, with a sense of humor that’s both sophisticated and incisive in its skewering of academia’s particular brand of pretentiousness.”

Like I say, it seems everybody is talking about “The Chair,” from Vice and Slate to The New Yorker and The Guardian. The Atlantic calls it “Netflix’s Best Drama in Years.” Time magazine calls it “a pretty accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a woman professor of colour,” which is why “it can be painful to watch.” Inside Higher Ed opines ominously that it “isn’t a satire” at all, although perhaps it is a “dark comedy” that “optimizes the comic potential of navigating gendered expectations of authority.” If nothing else, watch the 90-sec trailer and you may just want to watch more…  Trailer  |  Netflix  |  The Atlantic




Phew!  That makes 3 very long issues this week, and a total of almost 10,000 words!

Unless something particularly extraordinary happens in the meantime, I think I’ll be back in your inbox on Monday. I hope you have a great weekend, and perhaps carve out some time to watch “The Chair”…

Stay safe and be well!


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