MINTO – Vaccination against COVID-19 will be a condition of employment with the municipality under a new infectious diseases and vaccination policy established by the Town of Minto.
“To ensure the health and safety of our staff as well as our community, all staff of the Town of Minto are expected to follow public health guidance and to get vaccinated, including getting any required second dose or booster shot,” states an Aug. 25 press release from the municipality.
Minto CAO Derrick Thomson clarified in an Aug. 26 telephone interview that getting the COVID-19 vaccination is “a condition of employment.”
However, he stressed “the policy, by design, is not meant to be confrontational.”
Thomson noted no deadline for compliance has been set and the intent is “to work with staff to make sure they understand the reasons why we put the policy in place and really work with them to get vaccinated.”
Thompson also said the town will respect employees with medical and religious exemptions and attempt to work out accommodations.
“It’s not quite cut and dried. We’ve got to deal with it on a case-by-case basis,” he explained.
“We’re pretty small here, so we’re able to talk to people and work with people and get to the right conclusion.”
Asked if the policy also applies to members of town council, Thomson replied, “Council members are not considered employees.”
Thomson told the Community News the policy was developed by the town’s human resources and health and safety administration.
He said town council was advised of the policy during an in-camera session prior to the Aug. 25 meeting, “because there were some identifiable individuals that we had to discuss.
“We’re trying to do what’s right for the health and safety of our employees and we’re going to do what the public expect – that when they have interactions with town staff that they’re safe interactions,” Thompson stated.
Earlier this month, the County of Wellington announced a new policy requiring all new county employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
The county’s policy was, at least partially, in response to the Aug. 19 announcement of the City of Toronto’s new policy requiring all City of Toronto employees to receive both doses of the vaccine.
“The county is aware of the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 protocol and will be watching closely the evolving situation relating to required COVID-19 vaccinations for existing employees in Ontario,” county officials stated in an Aug. 23 press release.
Mapleton CAO Manny Baron told the Community News, the township is working with HR consultant Steve Ilott to create a policy “that protects staff but is also fair to those who have valid reasons for not being vaccinated.”
Baron added, “I do anticipate to have a carefully thought out policy to be presented to council” at one of the next two meetings.
Wellington North CAO Mike Givens said the township has not implemented any policy related to mandatory vaccines.
“Wellington North has been very focused on educating our staff, council and residents on the benefits of vaccination. Widely sharing information provided by Wellington Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, while also promoting and providing space for vaccination clinics to ensure access for all,” stated Givens in a Aug. 23 email.
Thompson said Minto’s policy has been in the works for some time.
“We had started working on this before the City of Toronto announcement came out because we thought it was the right thing to do … we’re starting in-person council meetings (Sept. 21), we’re opening up the office again (Sept. 7) and the other thing, to be quite honest, is this Delta variant,” he explained.
“This Delta variant is very spreadable; its different than when we only had the first version of COVID, so we’re concerned.”
Minto’s press release states the town is committed to safeguarding the health, wellbeing and safety of its employees.
“This includes both physical and psychological health and safety.
“As an employer, the Town of Minto has an obligation under the Ontario Health and Safety Act to take all necessary precautions to protect our employees. As such, we are taking every precaution to protect our staff, as well as those members of the community who visit our office once we reopen. Public health guidance indicates that vaccines provide a high level of protection against COVID-19 and all of the related variants.”
The release also states the new infectious disease and vaccine policy was designed to reflect recommendations from Public Health Ontario and Health Canada.
“This policy currently applies to the COVID-19 pandemic but there may be other public health risks in the future including another pandemic that require vaccinations and public safety measures. We want to take a leadership role, and make sure we are ready to meet those challenges,” the release states.
“The COVID-19 vaccines being offered in Canada are all considered effective and safe and are the best means to enable us to live in a world free of unnecessary lockdowns.”
– With files from Jordan Snobelen and Curtis Gordon