Administrators at the City of North Bay will be coming up with options on a workplace policy when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing for staff.
This after Councillor Bill Vrebosch’s motion calling for a policy to be developed was supported 8-1 on Tuesday night.
Councillor George Maroosis was the lone no vote.
He said the motion needed some clarifications, especially around the use of the term ‘mandatory vaccinations’.
“ My understanding and I stand to be corrected, is that if we have staff members who choose not to take a vaccination then there would be a testing process to allow them to come to work, so mandatory vaccinations are not on the table,” he says.
Councillor Chris Mayne says they should be encouraging vaccination but a mandate would likely spark opposition.
“Mandating vaccines in a unionized workplace I think would be challenged legally very quickly. I’m not sure that’s a practical direction for us to pursue. But, certainly encouraging everyone who can get a vaccine, do so, get two vaccines and potentially a third if it’s offered,” he says.
Councillor Mark King says he’s been vaccinated and supports encouraging others to get the shot too.
“But, to suggest that that would be mandatory inside the work environment at the City of North Bay is just not something that would fly,” he says.
King also says they should be following the direction of the Health Unit.
“That’s what they’re there for, this is outside the realm of city council to be delving into this type of process when we don’t have the necessary information,” King says.
The author of the motion, Councillor Bill Vrebosch, says they were elected to make decisions and sometimes they’re tough.
“We hear there are some citizens who are afraid and some who feel their rights are being challenged. But, if we’re going to make it through this thing tough calls will have to be made and may not be complete, 100 percent, accepted. In this case, a tough call needs to be made now,” he says. “We don’t want any more lockdowns.”
The motion also calls for staff to explore additional measures and policies to ensure safe in-person interactions between staff and citizens.
Staff will report back to council with options by September 30th.
Here is the motion that council supported:
Whereas the various levels of government in Canada and around the world, as well as public health partners and government health officials have acknowledged the importance and effectiveness of vaccines to protect our fellow citizens from COVID-19;
And Whereas Council believes it is important and necessary to take steps to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including those who are immunocompromised, or those, such as our young children, who are not yet eligible for vaccines;
And Whereas access to Municipal Government is an important facet of a healthy and thriving democracy;
And Whereas Council believes that the implementation of mandatory vaccination and testing policies will result in an increased sense of security for our staff and citizens in their daily interactions;
Now Therefore be it Resolved the Administration:
(i) be directed to explore options for and implement a workplace policy with respect to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing for staff;
(ii) explore additional measures and policies to ensure safe in-person interactions between staff and citizens; and
(iii) report back to Council with options by September 30, 2021.