South River council rejects developing COVID-19 policy for municipal workers

·2 min read

After weeks of working on language to create a COVID-19 policy for municipal employees, South River council has abandoned the effort. Over the last month, council has discussed draft versions of the potential policy but at Monday's regular meeting the council decided not to develop or adopt a policy. In rejecting the effort to create a policy, the council accepted the recommendation from clerk-administrator Don McArthur. “This is a health-care issue,” McArthur told council. “But the province is not providing clear direction on what it is they expect from us. They don't seem to be consistent with their own messaging about it. I suggest until that changes, we don't adopt a policy at this time. That's my recommendation.” Council was unanimous in accepting McArthur's recommendation. Coun. Bill O'Hallaran said “we should have a policy, but it should come from the government.” Coun. Brenda Scott indicated that even without the policy, people were doing what was required of them. Her council colleague, Teri Brandt, noted people continue to wear masks and questioned the rationale of a policy if requirements could soon be lifted. Brandt was also on board with waiting to develop a local policy until the Ford government takes “a stronger lead on it.” When council first started work on the policy in October it asked for feedback from its municipal workers. Without getting into the details, Brandt said she was surprised and disappointed at the nature of the feedback. Deputy Mayor Doug Sewell provided a bit more information, indicating that some of the letters that came into the municipal office connected with the COVID policy were attacking McArthur and accusing the clerk-administrator of orchestrating a conspiracy. Mayor Jim Coleman said it was at council's request and direction that McArthur began to develop a COVID-19 policy. “It's a policy that the council asked Don to put together,” Coleman said. “I will make this very clear. This is something we wanted as a council.” Any further debate on developing a COVID-19 policy ended.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget

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