Front-line workers faring well amid new mandate

3 Steps: Signs outside of the Shane Homes YMCA in Calgary. (Photo by Julia Doten/SAIT)

Implementing Alberta’s vaccine requirement is going surprisingly well for some put to the task.

Front-line workers have been enforcing COVID-19 health restrictions alongside their regular tasks since the start of the pandemic.

For Dakotah Northcut, member services supervisor at YMCA Calgary, the anticipation of enforcing these new restrictions luckily outweighed the reality facing her and her staff.

“I was definitely concerned about how people would react or treat them,” said Northcut. “I think for any front-line staff this is a concern just because of how controversial this has all been.”

For front-line staff working at businesses or events that have chosen to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program, their role is to verify these records, which entails checking the vaccine document itself.

“We’ve had people voicing their opinions about it, or their concerns,” said Northcut. “But for the most part it’s been really good.”

Adam Li, who waiters at Nellie’s Break the Fast Café in downtown Calgary, said that he anticipated having difficult interactions with customers.

“Honestly, I was expecting it,” said Li. “Surprisingly, I haven’t had any issues.”

Alberta Health Services has received “more than 1,347 complaints and requests related to COVID-19 public health orders in the week since new restrictions went into effect,” according to CBC News on Sept. 28.

These new restrictions came into effect on Sept. 20, 2021, and offer two different options to businesses in Alberta.

According to the Government of Alberta, the first option entails implementing the Restrictions Exemption Program, which requires proof of vaccination or a negative test result. Plus, mandatory masking to continue operating as usual.

Alternatively, businesses can comply with all public health restrictions that were established before the REP.

“The vaccine checking has actually been a little bit easier,” said Northcut. “I think it’s just at this point, most people are just ready to kind of get things moving again.”

“Honestly, I was expecting it,” said Li. “Surprisingly, I haven’t had any issues.”

With the anticipation of difficult encounters with customers mostly out of the way, the focus seems to have shifted to the vaccine requirements ease of use.

“It’s pretty easy,” said Li. “It’s just time consuming, that’s the only thing. If I check them one-by-one and I’m busy, it backs up everything.”

With several other provinces having QR codes associated with residents’ vaccine records, some have wondered if Alberta could implement something similar to make the process easier and more verifiable.

Simultaneously, privacy concerns surrounding QR codes are still prevalent, with Saskatchewan restoring its vaccine QR code system after a privacy glitch, and Quebec seeing some people create their own fraudulent QR codes.

For Li, a QR code would potentially make his job easier. “If they if they implemented that and I just had to scan it, that’d be way faster.”


About Julia Doten 3 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Julia Doten is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021-22 academic year.