Regional Council approves the creation of a staff vaccination policy, calls on Province and Feds to produce a proof-of-vaccine certificate
At this evening’s meeting, Niagara Regional Council voted to help protect staff, members of the public and the economy by directing the creation of a COVID-19 vaccination policy for staff, while also calling on the Provincial and Federal government to create a proof-of-vaccination certificate program.
With the arrival of the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, ensuring as many individuals as possible receive a vaccination is crucial. Current studies show that unvaccinated individuals are at the greatest risk of both becoming infected and spreading the virus, while also being 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with complications.
Slowing the spread of the virus is crucial as it also helps to lessen the chances of mutations, which can lead to new variants of concern.
The staff vaccination policy will require all Regional staff to provide proof that they have received both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Staff who cannot provide proof of full vaccination will be required to be tested regularly and provide those results.
Medical and human rights exemptions will be recognized and accommodated, but those staff will be required to regularly undergo testing under the new policy.
While staff are working on the finalizing the details, it is expected that the policy will come into effect by mid September, requiring staff compliance by prescribed timelines.
Ensuring Regional staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 not only contributes to a safer workplace, but is a critical protection for other members of the Niagara community. By ensuring Regional staff are vaccinated, it sets a positive example for others to follow as we work together to increase our vaccination rates and drive down infections.
In an additional demonstration of leadership, Council also voted to ensure the relevant parts of the staff policy will apply to members of council if they wish to attend in-person council meetings, conduct business at Regional facilities or attend official events in their capacity as a Councillor.
Later in the meeting, Regional Council passed a motion calling on the Provincial and Federal government to create a universal proof-of-vaccination certificate program to help residents easily prove their vaccination status. As more private businesses and public organizations announce their intention to make proof of vaccination a requirement to gain access to facilities, a province- and/or country-wide certificate program would provide and easy and convenient way for individuals to prove their current status.
Council’s motion comes on the heels of the Association of Local Public Health Agencies call to the province of Ontario to develop a province-wide vaccination certificate system. Ontario’s local Medical Officers of Health have collectively stated that a vaccine certificate would encourage higher rate of vaccination and ultimately contribute to helping to end the pandemic.
"As Regional Council, we have an obligation to provide a safe working environment for our staff. This policy not only goes a long way to make our work sites a safer place to be, it also sets an example for other employers to follow in the hopes of increasing vaccination rates. Vaccines safe lives and help avoid economic lockdowns – the motions passed tonight will help protect the health and safety of our community, while also playing a role in safeguarding Niagara’s economy"
~ Regional Chair Jim Bradley
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