West Nipissing council has drafted and approved in principle a municipal Covid-19 vaccination policy.
If approved, all municipal staff must have their first vaccination by November 19 and must have their second dose by December 17, 2021.
Johnson and Johnson manufacture a single dose vaccine, and for those who receive that shot, only one is required, but it must be taken by November 19.
Alissa Craddock serves as the director of corporate services for West Nipissing. She explained that essentially, “we’re requiring our employees and contractors who work with us to show proof of vaccination.”
“Obviously we always respect any human rights issues that may arise,” she emphasized, adding, “and those are very limited in scope.”
“Workers who remain unvaccinated” by the deadline, the policy explains, “due to a substantiated Human Rights Code related accommodation request” may be required to take additional measures to prevent infection.
That may include additional use of personal protective equipment, “frequent” Covid-19 testing, worker relocation “and modified work or reassignments.”
In the event of a Covid-19 outbreak in the region, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers “are not permitted to work in the outbreak area.”
And if reassignment is not possible, “unvaccinated workers may use vacation or unpaid leave until it is safe for them to return to the workplace.”
The policy applies to all municipal employees, both unionized and non-unionized, contractors and volunteers.
All elected officials must also follow the policy and show proof of full vaccination by December 17.
Anyone who does not comply with the policy “may be subject to discipline,” the municipality explains, “up to and including dismissal.”
“I agree with the policy,” said councillor Denise Sénécal, “it seems to be pretty much of a standard policy.”
“And we don’t have much lead way with the Ministry of Labour,” he added. “We have to protect our workers, so I think it’s a good policy so far. Let’s abide by it.”
Update November 17: West Nipissing’s vaccine policy was supposed to be brought forward to be ratified during the November 16 meeting. That meeting ended abruptly due to a loss of quorum.
Jay Barbeau, the municipality’s chief administrative officer, explained that regarding the vaccine policy, “we will now consider our options regarding the dates” as they were laid out in the original draft.
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.