Van Holst may seek Human Rights exemption to council’s COVID-19 vaccination policy

Ward 1 Councillor Michael Van Holst

City Councillor Michael Van Holst fired a warning shot about a proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for politicians at London city hall.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, Van Holst said he would seek an exemption based on Human Rights grounds.

“I see it as a violation of my own belief system, which I haven’t shared publicly, but I will do so in the form of a creed that can be used as a human rights exemption,” he told his council colleagues.

While not offering other details about his ‘creed’, he added that it would be open to people seeking an exemption, “I will offer it to others to adopt as well.”

On September 10, civic administration unveiled a tougher version of its COVID-19 vaccination policy for municipal employees, contractors, consultants, and volunteers.

By September 29, the policy requires either:

  • proof of double vaccination for COVID-19
  • a written attestation of either a medical or Human Rights exemption

At its meeting, council voted 12-1, Van Holst opposed, directing staff to report back as soon as possible with a similar policy for all 15 members of council.

Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan suggested Van Holst’s opposition is premature, having not seen the policy yet.

He says that it’s not intended to single out a member of council.

“It has to do with equity for me,” adds Morgan. “With city hall’s administrative policy applying to all staff under the banner of health and safety, there is no reason why councillors who work in the same building should not have the same policy applied to them.”

Van Holst said he is also concerned, for scientific reasons, that a control group of unvaccinated people be maintained.

“I may look to create such a group of volunteers who wants to be part of that, because I think it would be the responsible thing to do scientifically.”