City politician: my ‘credo’ will exempt me from compulsory COVID vaccines

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District 1 Council. Michael van Holst pledges to seek an exemption from a COVID-19 vaccine policy for city councilors based on his ‘credo’.

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The adviser, who repeatedly questioned public health policies during the pandemic and pushed anti-vaccine talking points, was the only opponent of a policy that would force politicians to follow the same rules as staff at the city.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a guide to human rights amid the COVID-19 pandemic, noting “that a singular belief or personal preference against vaccinations or masks does not appear to be protected for reasons of belief ”.

“When I was elected to this term, I never thought I had the power to tell my colleagues that they should share their personal medical records or the power to insist that they undergo special medical treatment. “Van Holst said at Monday’s board meeting. service commission.

Exemptions under the Ontario Human Rights Code, or for medical reasons, are the only options that would allow a city hall worker to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. If city council approves a nearly identical policy for politicians at its next meeting, the same rules will apply to councilors as of October 20.

Van Holst was unable to respond on Monday when asked whether his objection applied under the provincial human rights code or whether it was based on a specific religious belief, but said he would respond to those questions later this week.

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“Our staff did a great job putting together something very well done, that’s a great policy, in short. . . time, ”Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan said in Monday’s debate. Morgan pushed for a nearly identical policy to apply to city council after a vaccine mandate was created for city workers, saying there should be “parity” between the two groups.

Politicians voted 3-1 to recommend the new council policy on who should be vaccinated. Morgan, Ward 5 Council. Maureen Cassidy, who also chairs the board of health, and Ward 12 Coun. Elizabeth Peloza voted in favor. Van Holst is opposed to it.

Ward 13 Council. Arielle Kayabaga was absent as she is on leave while running for federal election, and Mayor Ed Holder did not attend Monday’s meeting.

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Even van Holst, the council’s most vocal opponent of immunization mandates, said the policy would “do a good job of keeping us healthy and keeping us happy too” because it will encourage sick people to stay in. house and provides for exemptions.

He then voted against the policy, just minutes after making the comment.

Like the roughly 3,000 workers employed by town hall, unvaccinated councilors should undergo daily COVID-19 screenings and get tested when they show symptoms of the virus.

While city staff can be fired if they fail to comply with vaccination policy, councilors who flout the rules would be reported to the council’s integrity commissioner.

The personnel policy is already in place. Municipal employees who are not vaccinated must submit a “written certificate” describing their medical or human rights reason. A doctor’s note is not required to file a medical waiver.

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Asked how attestations claiming exemptions under the Ontario Human Rights Code will be reviewed at town hall, a spokesperson said some may “require further follow-up depending on the submission, for example providing grounds not covered by the Ontario Human Rights Code “.

The Ontario Human Rights Code protects against discrimination based on protected grounds, such as age, race and religion.

“The requirement to wear a mask or to prove vaccination may represent a reasonable and good faith requirement for health and safety reasons, especially when it is demonstrated that serious risks to public health and safety exist.” , like during a pandemic, ”the Ontario Human Rights Commission wrote in its guide to human rights amid COVID-19.

The vaccine policy that would apply to city councilors is submitted to city council for a final decision on October 5.

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