The issue of mandatory vaccination for persons seeking employment with the city of Hamilton was pushed down the road for at least 3 months. After a debate of over an hour, Hamilton council agreed to ask the Medical Officer of Health to come up with a science-based report on whether the city’s current hiring policy makes any sense. Last year, after impassioned interventions by Ward 7 Councillor Esther Pauls, council voted to rescind a policy that would have seen more than 400 city employee fired for refusing COVID vaccinations. The change was made after staff at that time advised that the province had dropped its firing policy and that terminations in Hamilton would not likely survive a court challenge.
The city has retained, however, a hiring policy that stipulated any new hires still had to show proof of vaccination and Councillor Pauls was back before council asking that the requirement be dropped. She noted that the city policy was developed when the definition of “fully vaccinated” was two shots. The councillor argued that with most people now having four shots that the two shot requirement was outdated, but also discriminated against new hires vis a vis existing employees.
Councillors Maureen Wilson and J P Danko were still of the view that the city should retain a vaccination mandate, Wilson noting that diseases like polio and TB were eliminated virtually because there were strict mandates in place. She also noted that in the current climate of vaccine hesitancy, Polio and TB are showing up again. Medical Officer of Health Elizabeth Richardson said she thought such a report could be done by the end of June. Chairing the meeting, Mayor Horwath had to admonish members of the public gallery who were heard interjecting when the vaccine policy was being discussed.
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