Winnipeg to audit hockey arenas for proof-of-vaccine checks after pulling staff

The City of Winnipeg has told arena permit holders to be prepared to be audited after no longer providing employees to check vaccine proof at the entrance of city-owned facilities.

That decision has the president of St. Boniface Minor Hockey Association, Shaun Chornley, calling it unfair.

“I think if it’s your facility, you should be staffing it,” he told Global News in an interview.

In September, the City of Winnipeg says they told arena permit holders they would be responsible for confirming vaccine proof of players, coaches, managers, officials and spectators, as outlined by the province.

Read more: Legal questions on mandatory vaccination policies

“We simply don’t have the resources to have people inside the arena every day,” said Chornley.

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Now, the city says they’ll be making sure the rules are being followed.

In a statement to Global News, a city spokesperson says, “The City will be performing audits of all arena permit holders to confirm receipt, understanding, and demonstrated preparedness of the requirement of permit holders to ensure proof of vaccination. If the audit is not successful, or non-compliance occurs, permits may not be granted or continued access to arenas suspended temporarily or permanently.”

Read more: Hockey Manitoba rep shares thoughts on new vaccine mandates in sports

While Chornley says his association is complying with the city rules, he believes the new protocols make room for more error.

“There is also a difference when people show up to the rink when there is a representative of the rink there [rather] than a parent,” he says.

“The potential of something happening is probably greater, if [a visitor] shows up there and they could pull the wool over [a parent’s] eyes,” explaining how it can put parents who don’t have enough training in difficult situations.

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Read more: Hockey mom charged after refusing to provide proof of vaccination: Aylmer, Ont. police

He says if this type of situation were to happen, and result in a fine, it could be detrimental for teams.

“Minor hockey associations are non-profit groups that are basically running on budgets just to operate.”

Chornley says it’s typical for hockey associations to rent out their ice to other hockey groups — something he says will now create more issues in finding parent volunteers to act as immunization checkers for other teams.

Meanwhile, Winnipeg Hockey says they’ve seen no issues with the protocol change and told Global News it’s been working well so far — a sentiment Chornely does not share.

“We are asking a lot of a volunteer. It’s the lack of training, it’s the lack of knowledge of the whole scenario and we are having issues,” Chornley said.

Read more: Hiring, keeping staff the next battle for some Manitoba businesses hit hard by COVID-19

Whether it’s a city staff member or a parent volunteer, Chornley says he believes it’s a job that should have properly trained individuals.

“I’d like to see the city revisit this and say ‘maybe we should have our staff in place and have properly trained people on whatever the process may be on how to interact with people or even some non-violent crisis intervention.’”

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