CK council to discuss mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for councillors

Councillor Joe Faas. January 30, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent.)

Chatham-Kent council is set to debate whether or not to go ahead with a policy to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for councillors and members of advisory committees and boards.

Councillor Joe Faas, who is also the Chair of the Chatham-Kent Board of Health, will make a motion at Monday night’s meeting asking that council direct administration to draft a vaccination policy for members of council and committee members and return it to the October 4, 2021 council meeting.

Faas wants council to approve mandatory proof of full vaccination or an exemption for volunteers sitting on advisory committees along with other committees and boards in order to allow them to participate face to face at in-person meetings.

His motion reads “the safety of staff and the public is of paramount importance.” Faas said 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.

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent continues developing a COVID-19 vaccination policy for all of its employees.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said he expects a lively debate on the issue and wants council to lead by example.

“We have to be held to the same standard that everybody else in the community is,” said the mayor. “You’ve heard time and time again over the last six months, it’s critical to get vaccinated.”

Several other municipalities, institutions and public sector organizations have already or are in the process of implementing a COVID-19 vaccination policy for staff.

Council’s mandatory vaccine policy comes on the heels of a federal election vote in Chatham-Kent on September 20, 2021 that saw a high percentage of local voters cast a ballot for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), a party that promotes personal freedom and some would perceive as being anti-vaccine.

Mayor Canniff said it’s critical for council to step up, show support for vaccines, and get vaccinated, if they haven’t been already.

Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said the fact that the PPC didn’t wins any seats speaks volumes and he’s not too worried that they may have hurt the public health messaging asking people to get vaccinated against the virus.

“It’s not about personal freedom, it’s about keeping the population healthy,” said Colby.