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COVID-19 rapid test pay deadline causes conundrum between Calgary police, city

Rapid COVID-19 tests acquired by the Calgary police through a provincial program has created a quandary for the city.

Under the province’s rapid testing program, essential services were allowed to apply for free kits until March 2022, the Calgary police posted to Twitter.

Earlier in the day, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the city has “been forced” to do the same for other employees due to pressure from other city unions.  There had been a Dec. 1 deadline for city employees to get vaccinated or be on the hook for their own tests. The city had been paying for the tests up until now.

“The city has now agreed that it will be part of our policy to continue paying for testing if people are not fully vaccinated,” the mayor told media Wednesday.

“And that is due to the Calgary Police Service making that part of their policy.”

In the Calgary police post, they said that members must still pay for their own rapid testing kits. But, they did acquire kits through the provincial program.

“We are waiting for these kits & until they arrive, members who are not vaccinated will continue to pay for rapid testing kits out of their own pocket,” CPS said in a direct response on Twitter.

The mayor wasn’t certain what the cost would be to the city.

“I’m interested to know if we already have the kits available, if they will be provided by the province – I’m very interested to see how we’re going to manage this,” she said.

Roughly 8 per cent non-compliance

Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said he wasn’t satisfied with the roughly 92 per cent vaccine compliance among Calgary police.

“I want that number of people who are not getting vaccinated, especially when they’re getting paid to be front and center public safety people to be much, much smaller,” he said.

“I want it to be zero.”

He said he’s interested in developing as many “sticks” as possible to up the vaccination rates among the population.  Carra did say he was happy to see the 93 per cent number. More vaccines are needed, he said.

“If our first responders whose entire lives are focused on public safety, aren’t setting that example I think that that tells a problematic story,” Carra said.

Carra is also an appointee to the Calgary Police Commission (CPC). He asked the CPS in Tuesday’s CPC meeting about their stance on paying for tests.

He was told the current policy enforces the member-pay model after Dec. 1