Hamilton councillors vote to implement vaccination verification policy for all city employees

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Published August 26, 2021 at 1:03 pm

City of Hamilton employees will be required to provide proof of their vaccination status or produce regular negative COVID-19 tests according to a new policy.

At a special council meeting on Thursday (Aug. 25), councillors voted in favour of a staff report recommending the City adopt a vaccination verification policy for all employees.

“Effective September 30, 2021, all City employees will be required to provide proof of their vaccination status,” the report said.

“Those employees who have not been vaccinated or who do not disclose their vaccination status by September 30, 2021, will be required to attend mandatory education on the benefits of vaccination.”

As of November 15, 2021, it will be mandatory for all staff to have received their first and second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

City employees who refuse vaccination, the policy states, or who do not provide proof that they are fully vaccinated will be required to submit to ongoing testing and provide proof of negative COVID-19 tests.

After some debate and amendments to the policy and a lengthy in-camera session with the City’s legal staff, councillors voted 13 to 1 in favour of the recommendation. Ward 7 councillor Esther Pauls abstained from voting.

“These are painfully difficult decisions,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger during the meeting, who felt the onus for developing these mandates should rest with the Province and not municipalities.

Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly baulked at instituting a province-wide vaccine mandate, but last week his government announced just such a policy for high-risk settings like hospitals, long-term care residences and schools.

Since then, numerous businesses, sports organizations, municipalities and police forces have announced their own vaccine policies.

On Wednesday (Aug. 25) the Hamilton Police Service announced that they would require all members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 just days after the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Forge FC announced that fans and employees would be required to provide proof of vaccination to attend games at Tim Hortons Field.

The City’s new policy applies to all permanent, temporary, full-time, part-time, casual, volunteers and student employees and new employees will be subject to the vaccination verification policy as a condition of their employment contract with the City of Hamilton.

“I fully support the City implementing a mandatory vaccination verification policy for City employees and efforts aimed at increasing vaccine uptake in the community as a whole,” said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, chief medical officer of health, in a statement issued after the vote.

“At this critical time in the pandemic and as we move forward together, we need this leadership from across all parts of our community to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect workers, their customers and the community as a whole.”

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