Letter to Membership Regarding New Vaccination Policy
By Timothy Hubic, Chair of the Board of Directors
On behalf of the Board of Directors I wish to provide an update on the status of the recently announced Vaccination Policy. The usual process of soliciting feedback from our Minor Hockey Association/League presidents prior to significant change did not happen in the desired timeframe.
The last monthly zone meetings happened on November 9th and the policy was formed prior to that and released on November 10th.
The primary stakeholders to which Hockey Saskatchewan is responsible is it's nearly 200 MHA's (Minor Hockey Associations) across the province and various leagues. The Board is a group of hockey volunteers trying to do the best job possible in the best interest of as much of the membership as feasible while following the association’s vision, mission and value statements.
The top priority always has been and will remain to be the health & safety of all involved with hockey. This priority is often easily attained and other times it is challenging. COVID has challenged all of us in one way or another. Volunteers dealing with the pandemic and vaccinations specifically is not the Boards desire nor expertise. However, the Board must develop and support Policy that is in the best interest for the majority of the membership while considering the experience and knowledge that we possess and have available to us.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Hockey Saskatchewan appointed a Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to help us navigate through the medical & health concerns that COVID-19 presented. Our CMO is part of a network that includes CMOs from each Branch of Hockey Canada across the country. As well, Hockey Canada itself has a CMO. The Board relies heavily on the opinion and information provided by our CMO. On behalf of the Board I would like to extend our sincere gratitude for the time, effort and wisdom our CMO has supported us with. The same is true of our legal support provided by both Hockey Canada and our own legal council.
The vaccination policy has two primary objectives:
- Provide leadership to our hockey community as per our Mission statement, and;
- Provide the healthiest & safest environment that we "reasonably" can for as many participants as feasible.
The challenge faced by the Board of Directors when creating this policy is what membership considers reasonable in this pandemic environment. The Board created a vaccination policy after having to provide Hockey Canada with our Branch’s position on a National mandatory vaccination policy. This request induced self-imposed pressure to our Board to provide our membership with direction sooner than later. Circumventing our usual process resulted in the policy falling short of the mark.
The policy was drafted, vetted and eventually supported by the Board. Any policy is susceptible to criticism and scrutiny. The Board feels the policy can be better and that is where our efforts are being applied. Based on feedback from our direct Membership (Minor Hockey Associations/Leagues) the Board is currently working on revisions to make the policy suitable for a larger portion of the membership.
The Board feels it would not be prudent to abolish or rescind the policy in its entirety but instead modify the policy to try and accommodate more of our membership. Fully acknowledging the policy will never satisfy all, we are continuing to work through a process that achieves a reasonable balance and desired outcome for our membership and objectives.
Any member that is expecting the policy to go away will be disappointed. The policy is not going away. It is currently undergoing careful review and analysis to identify potential amendments. The policy is being amended in collaboration with the Board members, staff, the Chief Medical Officer and input from the membership.
Hockey Saskatchewan will deliver an amended policy that addresses the balance between protecting our membership’s health while still providing the best possible access to the game. Your volunteer Board members are hockey administrators that are aiming for the same target as all of our members… having all participants involved with our game enjoy positive hockey experiences in a healthy & safe environment.
There is a very wide opinion on the subject of the COVID-19 pandemic amongst the Hockey Saskatchewan membership. The revised policy will address the feedback that has been received understanding that it is not possible to accommodate every perspective.
Sometimes it really is.... More Than A Game
Hockey Saskatchewan Chair of the Board