Thursday, September 23, 2021

Chatham-Kent staff working on COVID-19 vaccine policy

Citing the fact that Municipality of Chatham-Kent administration is already working on a draft COVID-19 vaccine policy, North Kent Councillor Joe Faas withdrew his motion at the Monday, September 13, 2021 virtual Council meeting to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for municipal employees.

“In light of that and in light of Dr. Colby’s recent media release strongly urging community employers to adopt a vaccination policy and to separate the operational versus the Council element of the way my motion was written,” Faas said.

Cathy Hoffman, general manager for corporate services in Chatham-Kent, said administration has been communicating with Chatham-Kent employees for the past several months on the subject of vaccinations.

“To this point, we have taken an approach to strongly encourage our employees to get vaccinated if they are eligible to do so, citing the benefits of that and how it goes about keeping one another safe,” Hoffman said.

“As the local condition and the Provincial condition have been changing on this subject we too have been evolving our practice and for the last two to three weeks, we have been working on a policy that will essentially try to draw that balance between making sure that we are providing a safe organization for both our employees and for all of the customers that we serve.”

Hoffman added the policy is still in its draft form.

“We have some steps to take from here,” she said.

“We wish to make some connection with our union representatives, as well as some other stakeholders in the organization. Then we have a few details to finalize before we’re ready to share this information with our employees and move towards an implementation process.”

Councillor Faas also entered a new notice of motion on Monday night, which would:

– Direct administration to prepare a draft COVID-19 vaccination policy that would apply to members of Council and and return it to Council by the October 4 Council meeting.

– Approve that citizen volunteers appointed to advisory committees, committees, and local boards, be notified that they must provide proof of full vaccination or medical exemption prior to the resumption of in-person meetings in order to take their seats at those meetings.

“The safety of staff and the public is of paramount importance,” Faas said in his motion.

“Vaccines provide an additional layer of protection against COVID-19 and have been demonstrated to be effective in preventing serious illness and reducing transmission and hospitalizations. Provincial data has confirmed that the COVID-19 Delta variant is fueling a fourth wave of infection.”

Councillor Faas entered a motion to waive the notice period for his motion. However this motion failed, as it did not achieve a two thirds majority vote.

Faas’ new motion will be on the agenda for the September 27, 2021, virtual Council meeting.

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