The testing option, which was previously available to a small number of unimmunized Alberta Health Services workers at specific work locations, will now be available to any unimmunized staff member who wants to return to work, as part of the Immunization or Testing of Workers for COVID-19 Policy, which will be reviewed by the end of March 2022.

As of Dec. 23, approximately 1,400 full- and part-time staff who are not fully immunized have been placed on unpaid leave. The testing option allows those staff to return to work if they accept the testing option.

Testing will be available at their expense, and unimmunized staff will be required to provide proof of a negative Health Canada-approved COVID-19 test that was completed no more than 48 hours before each of their working shifts. A positive rapid antigen test would require a PCR test.

“We stand by the Alberta Health Services workers immunization policy as we have from the start, and staff and physicians deserve credit for the high immunization coverage they’ve achieved. In light of the risk posed by the Omicron variant, we need to adjust the policy to maximize capacity and avoid losing any staff if we can while still keeping patients safe. The immunization policy is about putting patients first, and this adjustment continues to put patients first by supporting Alberta Health Services in planning to add capacity as needed.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“We are concerned about the rapid rise in Omicron cases across the province in recent days, and anticipate that it could further impact our health-care system quickly. We must ensure we have the staff and resources required to care for our patients.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

Alberta’s government and Alberta Health Services strongly encourage all health-care workers – and all Albertans – to get immunized, including a third booster dose if they are eligible.

As has been the case for all four previous waves, the best way to protect our hospitals is for people to follow public health guidelines and restrictions, stay home when sick, wear a mask, and most importantly, get fully immunized, including a booster.

Quick facts

  • More than 97 per cent of full-time and part-time staff have had at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • More than 99.8 per cent of physicians have had at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • More than 99 per cent of ICU staff have submitted proof of being fully immunized.