Group pressuring Hamilton on city employees’ mandatory vaccine policy


Published May 10, 2022 at 11:11 pm

Five people with the same last name are putting pressure on the City of Hamilton to change its mandated COVID policy for municipal employees.

Currently, Hamilton has a plan that calls for the termination of all City workers who do not have their minimum two vaccination doses by May 31.

However, at tomorrow’s council meeting, the City will hear from five people with the last name of “Vlietstra” calling for the end of the policy. There are also at least two employees of the city who have that same last name. Under City of Hamilton rules, employees are not allowed to address council.

In their presentations to council, all the Vliestras criticize the City’s stance with some suggesting that if any employees are fired for not being vaccinated the matter will end up in court.

“…the Toronto Firefighters who were let go last year (over vaccinations mandates) will soon be getting their jobs back. This proves that these policies do not hold up in court. How much of our money is the city going to waste knowing full well that they will lose? This policy will also lose in the court of public opinion in the upcoming municipal election,” writes Eric Vlietstra in his submission to council.

While some Ontario cities are pulling back on making vaccination against COVID-19 an employment condition. Hamilton, at least for now, retains a plan to terminate city workers who don’t follow the rules.

Councillors have considered rescinding the termination rules but have yet to fully decide.

Latest updates show that vaccine uptake among municipal employees was above 94 per cent. The other 6 per cent works out to about 500 employees.

As well, Mayor Fred Eisenberger recently wondered about the ramifications of unvaccinated employees coming back to work and taking ill.

“Here’s my leading question: for those that come back who are unvaccinated and get ill, what happens?” he said at an April 20 meeting. “Knowing full well they were able to get vaccinated, they did not have a medical exemption, and now they get ill and they’re unable to work for the City of Hamilton because they have COVID, what happens? I’ll leave that question dangling out there.”

Not all who are delegating council share the same view of the Vlietstras, however.

In his submission, Hamilton lawyer and social justice activist Craig Burley wondered about a possible family connection between the five letter-writers. He also urged councillors to turn down the correspondence. “Don’t accept that correspondence. It’s breaking the rules and you know it. We all know it.”

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