PORT HOOD: Inverness County wants to take an anonymous survey of municipal employees to determine how many have received their second COVID-19 vaccination.
While discussing the municipal vaccine policy during the regular monthly meeting on Oct. 7, municipal legal counsel Christene Murray told council that under provincial policy it is not mandatory for employees to have two COVID-19 vaccinations, places like the Cape Breton Regional Municipality do not require it, and under provincial policy, the public does not need two shots to conduct regular municipal business.
“Any vaccine policy is balancing between two competing interests; one is the employer’s duty to mitigate the threat or prevent an outbreak of COVID-19, versus a person’s right to determine what they put in their body,” she told council.
District 4 Councillor John MacLennan noted that federal and provincial rules are vague and contradictory.
“The vaccine policy, it depends on who are and what you are,” he stated. “It’s hard to say what the answer is.”
“I am worried about people coming here not having vaccine,” District 6 Councillor Catherine Gillis told council. “I’m okay with the mandate, particularly for health care workers. It’s imperative, and to protect our staff, for the municipality, I think it’s important. But it is a hard call. There are people who are hesitant or against getting the vaccine, but I think they’re going to be limited in what they can participate in or do.”
If council passes a policy requiring double vaccinations, Warden Laurie Cranton said the municipality will have manage and police that.
The warden suggested surveying staff, anonymously, to find out how many have been fully vaccinated. He predicted the vaccination rate among municipal workers would likely be in the 90 per cent range.
“We want to work with staff, we want to engage them on their thoughts, what’s best for them,” he said. “Given Inverness County, and our province, and the number of cases we have, I don’t think we need to go to something mandatory at this point.”
Deputy Warden Bonny MacIsaac supports vaccinations against COVID-19 and noted that all provincial government employees have to receive their second shot or face going on unpaid administrative leave.
“I think we have to look at what the other governments are doing and look at before making our decision,” she suggested.
CAO Keith MacDonald said staff will be surveyed, they will study what other government are doing, then relay their findings to the committee of the whole session on Oct. 21.