Windsor will be moving forward with a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for municipal employees, the mayor has announced.
Council passed a motion at its in-camera meeting on Monday directing staff to develop a policy modelled on the one in place for employees of the Ontario government, which is requiring anyone not fully vaccinated to get tested twice a week.
In a media release, Mayor Drew Dilkens said that work has already begun on establishing a policy that is specific to the city.
"As a major employer in the region, the City of Windsor has an obligation to set the tone and show leadership," Dilkens said in the statement.
"Residents accessing services at City Hall need to have confidence that they are interacting with staff who are fully vaccinated and employees returning to the workplace need to know that all steps have been taken to safeguard their health and safety."
The development comes after a surge in local COVID-19 cases this month, with just under 400 cases active as of Monday.
"With COVID-19 cases beginning to rise again and a fourth wave appearing inevitable, the single best chance we all have to avoid additional illness is to ensure that as many individuals as possible are vaccinated," Dilkens said.
Council has also asked staff to work with agencies, boards, committees and government businesses — such as ENWIN and Windsor police — to bring their employees under the policy.
Other municipalities mull mandatory vaccine policy
Windsor is the only municipality in Windsor-Essex to formally endorse a mandatory vaccination policy so far, but the issue is being considered by other councils as well.
Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said he personally supports a mandatory vaccination policy, and the municipality is considering all possibilities to address the issue.
"We're looking at what we can do as a municipality," said McNamara, who is also chair of the region's Board of Health.
The mayors of LaSalle, Kingsville and Lakeshore confirmed they are also discussing potential policies. Leamington Council is expected to address the issue at a council meeting on Tuesday.