DAWSON CREEK, BC -- In April, BC saw the end of the vaccine passport. The vaccine requirement for travel has been dropped this week as well.

But the BC Liberals say the province is ready to get fully back to normal. Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier is calling on the government to lift the remaining mandates.

“We’re at a point now where we have to ask the question. So, if people have chosen not to be vaccinated, why can’t they come back to work? Why can’t they be back in our hospitals?” says Bernier.

British Columbia has relaxed most of its COVID-19 restrictions, but a few key ones remain. Healthcare workers in hospitals and long-term care homes must still be fully vaccinated. Anyone visiting those facilities must be vaccinated as well.

The mandate also applies to public sector workers – about 30,000 people province-wide.

“At the beginning of this, I was very vocal on supporting and encouraging people to get vaccinated if they chose to do so,” says Bernier. “But we’re no longer there.”

Bernier says the rules no longer make sense. On Monday, the federal government suspended vaccine requirements for their employees. As of now, BC has not announced any plans to follow suit.

The Canadian Medical Association says it’s too soon to lift requirements in healthcare settings.

“It’s our duty to care, and to do what we can to protect our patients, always,” says Dr. Ann Collins, past-president of the Canadian Medical Association.

Bernier agrees that safety protocols, such as masks and hand washing, should still be in place in hospitals. But Collins says vaccines are still critical to protect the most vulnerable. Data shows that people who are not vaccinated are much more likely to get seriously ill from COVID.

“Those people who are illest in hospital, in ICU, are not fully vaccinated,” says Collins.

Unvaccinated people who get COVID are three times more likely to be hospitalized, and five times more likely to die than those who are fully vaccinated. People aged 70 and older continue to be the most vulnerable to infection, and account for over 80% of deaths.

At the beginning of this year, there were 320 unvaccinated healthcare workers in the Northern Health region. Bernier says every little bit helps with the healthcare system, and they should at least be invited back to work.

“It’s time that we take a really solid look at this,” says Bernier. “Ensure public safety, but at the same time, start being realistic about where we’re at.”