This column was written prior to the meeting of council.
Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will now be required of anyone taking a job with the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
But the city has stopped short of asking the same of those already in its workforce.
Instead, present employees will be asked to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status by Tuesday, Oct. 5, a story on SooToday reveals..
“Those employees that are not fully vaccinated or do not disclose their status will be required to attend mandatory education on the benefits of vaccination,” said Malcolm White, the city’s chief administrative officer.
“As well, the city will work with employees on an individual basis to ensure they have access to specific information relating to individual concerns they may have regarding vaccines,” White says in a report prepared for city council.
“These employees will also be required to submit to regular rapid antigen testing to ensure negative test results.”
Sounds good, but I think the proposed move is a step short.
Vaccination should not only be required of new hires; it should be required of all employees.
White is quoted as saying that he knows some of the city’s employees are not fully vaccinated, but says “there is a need to balance the human rights and privacy rights of employees with our obligation to protect employees and workplaces.”
“It should be understood that this policy will be an evolving policy which will continue to be informed by provincial legislation, public health advice and direction and any relevant arbitration and/or legal decisions.”
I hope it evolves quickly because I take issue with his comment about balancing “the human and privacy rights of employees with our obligation to protect employees.”
There is no balancing act required.
As far as privacy goes, I see that as a non-starter.
And surely an employee’s rights do not extend to the point that they can endanger their fellow employees; being unvaccinated can do just that.
And that, as far as I am concerned, means the city has to step in, the relevant part of what White said being the city’s obligation to protect its employees.
That is what it needs to do and requiring that all employees be vaccinated would cover that.
It would not be alone in doing this. Toronto has done it, saying it has to protect its employees; the federal government plans to do it as does the Biden administration in the United States.
Vaccine and mask mandates are becoming the norm as the Delta variant of COVID is wreaking havoc everywhere.
The city should take that one more step required, the vaccination of all employees, to join the fight against it.
SPEAKING OF HUMAN RIGHTS, there are those who will undoubtedly object to the Ontario government’s decision that starting Sept. 22, anyone wanting to go to restaurants, gyms, cinemas, casinos, and many other non-essential businesses will need proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
“We have two options here. We either do this or we risk shutting down the economy, which would even be worse, having our hospital capacity maxed out and at the brink, having our kids stay at home, our college and university kids going back online. That is what we are trying to avoid,” Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference.
The premier is right. This is no time for pussy-footing around. Hard decisions that come out hard must be made as we do not want another lockdown
The unvaccinated are a danger to us all. Measures such as what the government has decreed just might give them the idea that for life to return to normal for them they must make the same sacrifices the rest of us are making.
NOTING A STORY on saultonline that said the new by-law regulating shopping carts in the city is now in effect, I thought I saw an opening for a young entepreneur.
As part of the by-law, business owners who provide shopping carts to their customers are required to develop and file a plan with the city’s Director of Public Works and Engineering Services identifying which measures it will take to keep the carts on their property or to retrieve them.
The story said the plan must include details of the business owner’s operation and timeline of how carts shall be retrieved and returned to the business owner’s premises, a description of the owner’s carts including any easily identifiable features and the contact person and information for the business owner who will be called if carts are found off site.
“Effective immediately, businesses can be fined for having shopping carts left on sidewalks, boulevards and paths throughout our city,” said Susan Hamilton Beach, Director of Public Works and Engineering Services. “We recognize that business owners face great challenges in the collection of their carts and we will work with these businesses to provide practical controls and a system to assist in facilitating the pick-up of abandoned shopping carts.”
Maybe the system to assist in the pickup of carts could be that all the businesses involved kick in to a pot, on a pro-rated basis, that would allow for someone to prowl the city looking for abandoned carts, picking them up and returning them to their rightful owners.
Personally, I didn’t see the need for the bylaw. I have seen abandoned carts but not in the numbers that I thought a bylaw was required.
But since it is here, having one person or business handle the job of retrieving them should save every business having to come up with a plan.