Eganville -- Bonnechere Valley council will not be bringing in a vaccine policy anytime soon but will wait until infection rates reach a point where the issue needs to be revisited.
“I still believe that the individual, their medical records are to be discussed between the person and their healthcare provider,” Councillor Tim Schison said at a committee meeting of council last Tuesday.
While the County of Renfrew and many other municipalities, including Whitewater Region, Pembroke and Arnprior, have passed policies, BV agreed to keep the status quo – for now.
CAO Annette Gilchrist revisited the issue with council and said at present BV is not asking employees about vaccination status.
“I have not received any complaints from employees or the public,” she said.
“I think we have taken a pretty solid preventative approach so far,” Councillor Brent Patrick said.
If there is a COVID outbreak the municipality will have to follow established protocols from the health unit, he added. Employees should have the choice on vaccination, he said.
“Some people had negative experiences with the second shot (vaccination) and they are concerned about the third and fourth,” he added.
The county policy speaks of abiding by the current recommendation of the health unit, he added.
“My recommendation is to have a preventative approach,” Coun. Patrick said. “If people want to get the vaccine, they are good.”
Coun. Schison said he did not want to be pushing a vaccine policy on staff, adding it is still possible to get COVID even when vaccinated.
“I want to keep things as they are,” he added.
Councillor Jack Roesner said he does not agree with the vaccine policy or singling out individuals.
“If you are going to test, test everybody,” he added. “This thing about testing people who are unvaccinated makes no sense to me.”
Mayor Jennifer Murphy pointed out recently the province saw 300 cases of fully vaccinated people who did get ill with COVID. There are people who are concerned about the idea of only testing the unvaccinated, she added.
“The comment was made maybe we should all be rapid-tested once a week,” she said.
Mayor Murphy said she was comfortable with leaving the status quo in the township for now, but if local cases start to “skyrocket” the issue needs to come back to council for consideration.
“We don’t have to do what the county did,” she added, pointing out BV could bring in a different policy.
“One of our neighbouring municipalities was finding the employees, even if they are double vaxxed, don’t want to share (their vaccine status),” she commented.
Coun. Schison said he did not like the idea of segregation or full testing.
“I strongly support the privacy of the employee,” he said. “I have faith in our employees that if they are sick, they will say they can’t come in.”
He said he disagreed with some of the measures which have been taken in the last few years. It is time to bring back the status quo of 2019 pre-COVID, he said.
“I don’t like this all ‘we have to do more and more’,” he said. “It’s a hard pill to keep swallowing because now they are talking the third and fourth (shot). Where does it stop?”
Coun. Schison said he did not want to bring in a vaccine policy for the township. “I was elected to govern, not to rule,” he said.
Mayor Murphy said having the testing would not make sense for some employees like firefighters who come in more infrequently. She said it would be impossible to know when they would be called in for a fire and thus when they would need to be tested.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader