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Callander refuses vaccine policy, ‘wait until the government mandates it’

Suggestion to draft a Covid-19 vaccination policy dies on council’s floor
COVID vaccine
Callander's council has decided against drafting a COVID-19 vaccination policy, choosing to take direction from above / File photo

Last evening Councillor Daryl Vaillancourt put forward a motion that would see municipal staff draft a Covid-19 vaccination policy, but the suggestion was not well-received.

“I think it’s critically important that the municipality has a formal vaccination policy as it relates to Covid-19,” Vaillancourt said, adding “I’m a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t bring this up earlier,” as such policies are “mandatory” within other organizations “virtually everywhere.”

See: COVID-19 vaccination policy is now in effect at the Sundridge Medical Centre

After the motion was read requesting staff draft a policy, Vaillancourt said, “I do hope that I have unanimous support to get this implemented at our next meeting.”

He did not.

“At this time, I don’t believe that it’s a necessary step to take,” explained Mayor Robb Noon, noting how municipal staff have been following “all the recommendations from the province and our health unit.”

“We’ve been doing everything in our power to follow all of these recommendations,” he added, “so at this time, I’m not in favour of doing a report to council” on the topic.

See: Municipally mandated employee vaccination policy takes effect

Councillor Jordy Carr agreed with the mayor, noting that “with the policy comes the other side of it—people who aren’t going to follow it,” and she had concerns of possibly losing staff.

“We’re running a well-oiled machine,” she said, speaking of the municipality, “right to the limit, and if we lose any staff with the policy then we’re going to end up in a real pickle.”

Carr mentioned that she believes “everybody should get vaccinated, but I do have an issue with forced vaccinations for a number of reasons.”

These policies—and the debates over vaccinations—have “become a real bone of contention with a lot of people and a lot of workplaces,” Carr said, “and it is a really tough situation that we’re all finding ourselves in.”

“In the past 20 months or so we have had no reported cases of Covid,” amongst municipal workers, councillor Linda Alkins added.

“Our staff has been very diligent following protocols.”

See: West Nipissing drafts municipal Covid-19 vaccination policy

Alkins suggested a policy be drafted that was not “necessarily detailed to Covid” specifically, but addressed “any infectious disease that creates a pandemic.”

Such a policy would help guide the municipality through “any type of state of emergency” councillor Irene Smit said, pertaining to public health.

“I am definitely opposed to forcing a mandate on staff or anyone else,” Smit clarified. “I believe we’re doing a good job and I don’t believe we should be altering that.”

“I don’t think it’s right that employers are being forced into this position,” councillor Carr added.

See: East Ferris’ municipal workers to be fully vaccinated by November 15

“I recognize this is probably going to die on the floor,” Vaillancourt noted, after hearing from his fellow councillors, “but our approach is not something I am pleased with.”

“However, I recognize that’s the process,” he said, “but taking a proactive position on a very real global health and safety issue I think is our responsibility.”

“It should be them who mandate it,” Mayor Noon said, referring to the provincial government. “And they’re not mandating it yet, so that’s my position.”

“Let’s wait until the government mandates it,” councillor Alkins agreed, “and if they do, let them give us the parameters.”

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.