Eganville – Bonnechere Valley has decided to not implement a COVID vaccine policy for staff, but current protocols of hand washing, distancing and mask wearing will be kept in place.
“I don’t want to employee-shame,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy said last Tuesday during a committee meeting of council.
“I don’t like where everything is going,” Councillor Tim Schison said. “I prefer to keep medical documentation at a personal level.”
CAO Annette Gilchrist asked council how they wanted to proceed with a COVID-19 vaccination policy. She noted the Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) was recommending a vaccination policy for municipalities.
“The County of Renfrew is developing one and bringing it forward in October,” she added.
While South Algonquin has a policy in place, other municipalities are still discussing it, she said.
“We are concentrating here on staying vigilant,” she noted, adding masking, distancing and hand washing continue to be practiced. “We are concentrating on vigilance to stop the spread as opposed to making mandatory demands for employees to have a vaccination.”
Mrs. Gilchrist said right now the township has a COVID protocol in place.
“The protocol is one thing,” she said. “This would be a policy which would be enforceable.
“I think our staff needs more of our support,” she added. “I want to treat everybody the same and let’s just stay vigilant and be careful.”
Mayor Murphy said when the issue was discussed about South Algonquin there was a bit of reticence from others about the policy.
“I know Dr. Cushman (RCDHU Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman) wants us to have it,” she said, noting she does not like the idea of a policy.
“I like the idea of physical prevention – masks,” Councillor Merv Buckwald said.
Coun. Schison said he was not in favour of the vaccine policy.
“I don’t like the road things are on lately,” he said.
Councillor Jack Roesner was also opposed to a policy on vaccination.
“Or singling them out,” he said. “That is not happening.”
“There is too much division right now,” Coun. Schison said.
There has been a huge increase in mental health issues and opioid abuse during this time, he added.
“I don’t want to contribute to that,” he said.
Councillor Brent Patrick said he was also opposed to a vaccine policy.
“I agree with the direction we are going,” he said.
Mrs. Gilchrist said department heads in the township are enforcing the existing COVID protocols. She added she believes the majority of staff are vaccinated, but she only knows this from overhearing conversations.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader