Winnipeg – The Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations (MOFA) is calling on university administrations and the Government of Manitoba to implement mandatory vaccines for students and staff returning to in-person activity at Manitoba’s universities this fall. MOFA, comprised of representatives from the University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, Brandon University and Université de St. Boniface, has passed a unanimous motion calling on the province and university administration to take decisive action to keep faculty, staff, students, and their families safe this Fall. The motion comes as over 400 American universities and colleges have already implemented mandatory vaccine policies. The call also comes as the Government of Manitoba has implemented vaccine requirements for individuals attending large-scale sporting events, movie theatres, and indoor dining with those outside of their immediate household.
“Our universities and provincial government have an opportunity to be proactive in this instance, by bringing in a simple step to protect university staff, students and their families. With a fourth wave looming, and a highly transmissible delta variant in the community, a mandatory vaccination policy is the prudent move,” said MOFA President Dr. Scott Forbes. “It really makes no sense to exclude universities and colleges when we are insisting on mandatory vaccination elsewhere; and from a legal perspective, it is quite clear that such a move is permissible.”
MOFA also acknowledges the complexities that come with a call for mandatory vaccination. For example, those with legitimate medical reasons should be exempted from this policy. And MOFA recognizes the difficulties that international students may face because of vaccine inequity, and proposes a science-based grace period for them so that they have ample time to access vaccines upon their arrival in Manitoba.
“MOFA’s call for mandatory vaccination follows the resounding success vaccinations have had in our fight against Covid-19 and is a reasonable precaution to help reduce the burden of this pandemic in our academic institutions and communities as we move back to in-person learning during the Fall and Winter terms,” said Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor of Viral Pathogenesis at the University of Manitoba. “I hope that by calling for this approach with time before the beginning of the term that our administrations and provincial government can take a science-based approach as they support our universities in the return to in-person learning.”
Should Manitoba’s universities choose to implement a vaccine mandate, they would join other world-class institutions including Berkley, Caltech, and Harvard in protecting their students and staff. In Canada, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association has called for a vaccine mandate, and Seneca College has been the first to implement a vaccine requirement for all in- person activities.
MOFA represents over 1500 members, comprised of faculty, instructors and academic staff from University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, Brandon University and Université de St. Boniface.