Essex council fails to pass staff vaccination policy, defers back to administration

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It's back to the drawing board for a staff COVID-19 vaccination policy in the Town of Essex.

Administration brought forward a number of options for consideration Monday night, but council opted to defer the matter over questions related to testing and whether or not an unvaccinated employee could be fired.

Councillor Sherry Bondy says mandating vaccines should be handled by uppers levels of government.

"We are roads, we are community service," says Bondy.  "We are not healthcare. The province hasn't mandated municipalities. I understand that everybody else is doing it. Doesn't mean if everybody else lines up, ready to jump off the cliff, we have to too."

She feels a decision like this should be left to the health experts.

"This is not our jurisdiction," she says.  "I certainly don't want members of council telling me what I can and can't do in terms of medical decisions. None of us are doctors here. We have to allow people decisions without threatening to fire good employees."

Councillor Chris Vander Doelen says it all comes down to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"The first words in section seven of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us security of the person and the right not to be deprived there of," says Vander Doelen.  "It's dishonest politics to claim that our employees have a choice when the choice is submit to our will or lose your paycheck."

A revamped policy is expected to be brought back to council at its next regular meeting.

Essex remains the only municipality in the region without a staff vaccination policy in place.