A staff recommendation to pause the city’s vaccine mandate for Municipal employees was defeated at City Council by a tie vote. Staff had recommended that the policy be paused, in light of the provincial decision to lift vaccine mandates and proof of vaccination requirements.
Laura Fontana head of HR for Hamilton, explained the recommendation is to suspend or pause the policy. She said if the situation warrants it they would come back before council with a recommendation to reinstate the policy. She said staff purposely recommended pausing the policy as opposed to abolishing it, because with the lifting of the vaccine mandate provincially it became difficult from a legal perspective for Hamilton to continue with its policy of unpaid leave and terminations. “We don’t feel confident that if we continued with the policy, particularly with termination of employment, that we would be supported in the courts,” Ms. Fontana told council.
An emotional Esther Pauls in supporting pausing the policy said she supports vaccination but cannot support a policy that results in employees being fired. “Let’s not divide the city,” she said, “I follow the province…and they are saying, it’s time to lift the mandate,” adding that there are very few employees who decided not to get vaccinated.
Voting to end the Vaccination mandate were Councillors Farr, Merulla, Jackson, Pauls, Pearson and Ferguson.
Voting to maintain the policy were Mayor Fred Eisenberger, and Councillors Wilson, Nann. Danko, Partridge and Powers.
Absent were Councillors Clark, Whitehead, Johnson and Vanderbeek.
Reconsideration of the vote would require a two-thirds vote by council, unlikely given the closeness of the vote today.