To vax or not to vax: Wasaga to bring in vaccine policy for town employees

Wasaga Beach municipal employees will soon have new rules for the vaccinated, and unvaccinated.

However, the town’s deputy fire chief and point person on COVID-19, Craig Williams, said anyone opting not to get a jab will not be subjected to antigen testing.

“There are a number of challenges with the testing, the logistics of delivering (testing) on a daily basis and the number of staff we have,” he said.

Williams presented council’s co-ordinated committee with a draft vaccination policy that will apply to employees, contractors, volunteers, and politicians.

The policy, which is not yet in its final form, would require employees — including those who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Wasaga Beach Professional Firefighters Association — to report their vaccination status to the town’s human resources department.

The town’s pandemic command team, in consultation with the local health unit, conducted an assessment of the risk for employees, and determined it to be “moderate risk” of virus transmission, Williams said.

The position on testing could be reviewed depending on the progress of the pandemic, he said.

Employees retain the right, he said, “to make an informed decision about their personal health care, including the decision to become vaccinated.

“We will be strongly encouraging all employees to receive the vaccine,” he said.

Employees who do not submit proof of their vaccination status, or who are unable to be vaccinated, will be treated as unvaccinated.

That will mean a requirement to wear a mask in all municipal facilities, including non-public areas, when in the presence of another employee, regardless of physical distancing or other public health measures.

Should an outbreak occur in a municipal facility, unvaccinated employees will be subject to other precautionary measures that may include wearing additional personal protective equipment, modified or reassigned duties, alternate work locations, or required use of vacation and sick time.

However, emphasized Williams, “under no circumstances will an employee face any degree of intimidation, coercion, bullying or any other negative behaviour” based on a decision whether or not to be vaccinated.

“The municipality’s standpoint is we will support our employees with their decision-making,” he said.

Council will be updated at a later meeting on the reintroduction of in-person meetings for council and committees. That policy will be informed by the province’s vaccine passport system that will come into force on Sept. 22.