Kingsville approves mandatory vaccine policy among all staff

Kingsville Town Hall is seen in this file photo. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Kingsville town councillors have approved a motion to mandate vaccination among all municipal staff and employees.

During a regular meeting Monday evening, councillors voted 4-2 to put a vaccination policy in place following a report sent to Mayor Nelson Santos and councillors last Wednesday.

Of those who voted against the policy, was Councillor Laura Lucier who expressed disappointment that the municipality had to discuss the policy. Lucier said higher levels of government should be responsible for making the decision.

“I appreciate the work that administration has done, and how difficult this is. I appreciate them bringing forward a policy, and understand the need for a policy,” Lucier said during Monday night’s meeting.

Lucier also stated she personally supports vaccination.

“I do believe we can take some personal responsibility for improving the safety of our community by being vaccinated,” said Lucier. “But I also don’t feel comfortable making that decision for someone else. We live in a country that [allows] people to make those decisions for themselves.”

Additionally, Lucier suggested that any employee who is unvaccinated by choice be permitted to work so long as they are compliant with additional infection and prevention control methods. Under the policy, only those with substantiated Human Rights Code accommodations can be granted the exception.

Councillor Tony Gaffan also voted against the policy though he acknowledged it is fair.

“I am not going to debate whether or not the vaccine is of value. I have done my research and chose to be vaccinated,” Gaffan said prior to the motion going forward. “It may not be what you have chosen, and I need to respect your choices however, I am concerned that the mandatory vaccine policy creates a slippery slope.”

Gaffan expressed concern regarding where the policy would lead in regards to potential mental health issues that could stem from workers who lose employment due to their vaccination status.

“My fear is that this will create a problem that far exceeds what we are even imagining,” Gaffan said during an emotional speech.

Gaffan also proposed an amendment to the policy similar to Lucier’s but instead suggested the municipality pay for tests for unvaccinated employees.

No amendments to the policy were passed during the meeting.

According to the report, the deadline in place for Kingsville staff to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is set for September 30. Employees must have shots by October 30.

-With files from Adelle Loiselle