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Mayor stands by municipal vaccination policy

'I do respect those individuals who have chosen not to get the vaccination, and it's very unfortunate there were terminations, but they were small [in number] compared to the total number of employees we have.'
2021 12 10 Al McDonald (Campaigne)
Mayor Al McDonald speaks about the City of North Bay's workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Mayor Al McDonald faced questions about the City of North Bay's workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy that has resulted in the union filing grievances over the firing of 11 municipal employees — and the policy itself.

See related: Union fighting for jobs of fired City employees

And: City of North Bay fires 11 over vaccination policy

"I am fully supportive of the vaccination policy that Council and our senior staff brought forward — and its implementation," declared McDonald, at a media event, Friday. "I do respect those individuals who have chosen not to get the vaccination, and it's very unfortunate there were terminations, but they were small [in number] compared to the total number of employees we have."

Communications Officer Gord Young confirmed last week "approximately 95 per cent of employees of the City of North Bay are fully vaccinated and 11 employees have received termination notices related to failing to comply," to the policy, introduced in early October.

The union representing the City employees has stated publicly it is in favour of a COVID-19 testing option in lieu of vaccination, similar to the policy governing North Bay Police Service members.

Asked if the policy could be rolled back and adjusted to include testing, McDonald replied, "Policies should always be flexible and should be moving along with what is happening in our communities. So, that is something I'm sure our senior staff is constantly reviewing. The challenge we have now is this new variant that is exploding across the globe. To answer the question, I don't think [a change in policy] is going to be anytime soon."

Note: The following section has been edited to clarify the role of the North Bay Police Board and the NBPS vaccination policy.

Although McDonald is also a member of the North Bay Police Board, the NBPS policy with the testing option included was an administrative decision.

"We, as a City Council do not have control over what the police service does under the Police Act, they make their own determination on their vaccination policy. We can only control what we can control and that's the policy that was put forward for our agencies, boards, and commissions that fall directly under our jurisdiction."

He added, "Under the Police Act, we are more of a governance board, where at Council we can make far more decisions."

McDonald noted the City has not wavered from the direction it took at the onset of the pandemic.

"I remember, on Mar. 17, 2020, when we were shutting the city down — it had never been done before," reflected McDonald. "I remember standing there saying, 'Safety is our number one priority, you have our commitment.'

"The vaccination policy that was developed for the City of North Bay is really not that much different from most municipalities but it's one way that we believe helps protect the health and safety of our employees and our community."


Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for BayToday.ca, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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