North Grenville established how it would adapt to the Provincial Proof of Vaccination Program at the public meeting of September 15. Following Premier Doug Ford’s announcement that, as of September 22, Ontarians will be required to provide proof of vaccination to access some public facilities, the Municipality is required to establish how this new legislation will be implemented in North Grenville.
In general, the Municipality will adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Province: patrons of high-risk, non-essential indoor environments will be required to show proof of vaccination, while patrons of grocery stores, medical facilities, retail facilities, banks, and places of worship will not. The only valid medical exemptions are considered to be proven allergic reaction to a component of the vaccine, or cases where individuals suffered myocarditis or pericarditis after receiving their first dose.
Chief Administrative Officer, Gary Dyke, explained that importantly for the Municipality in particular, vaccine requirements do not “pertain to the Municipal administrative offices. People can still come to pay taxes, go to counter service, or other non-recreation related services, without providing proof of vaccination. However, all existing COVID-related protocols - masking, distancing - will apply as we move forward.” Municipal Council meetings can also be attended without providing proof of vaccination.
The Municipality also decided its employee vaccination policy. Gary said, “we have an obligation as an employer to provide all necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of our employees as well as members of the public. One of the best ways to achieve this is by encouraging vaccinations. As such, the adoption of the Mandatory Vaccination policy fulfills this obligation and reduces the impact of COVID-19 within our community.”
Though vaccines will indeed be mandatory for municipal staff, there is an alternative. Staff who are not vaccinated, or who are otherwise unwilling to provide proof of vaccination, will still be permitted access to municipal facilities if they submit to rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 three times a week. The cost of these tests will be borne by the Municipality.
Mayor Peckford stated “of course, we have very high vaccination rates in Eastern Ontario, among the highest in the Province. So, hopefully, this is more moot than not.” She went on to say that Council and municipal staff are “all encouraged by the kind of leadership the community has shown.”
Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times