In a deal that clearly had been worked out behind the scenes, Hamilton City Council has voted to reconsider the staff recommendations to suspend components of the City’s Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Verification Policy that would have seen unvaccinated employees terminated.
Under council rules, in order for a matter to be reconsidered one of the persons who voted for the measure must move for reconsideration and that gesture was provided by Mountain Councillor John Paul Danko. The measure then required a two-thirds vote which it received 9-4. Councillor’s Merulla, Johnson and Whitehead were absent. Councillor Danko who voted to allow the matter to be reconsidered, stuck with his earlier position and voted against rescinding the termination policy. Joining Danko in voting against rescinding were Mayor Eisenberger, and Councillors Powers and Partridge.
Staff had recommended dropping the termination policy in light of the Ontario government dropping its policy. Director of HR Laura Fontana had warned council that the terminations could be overturned in the courts and that termination costs could end up in the millions of dollars for the 264 employees who would have been affected.
The requirement to provide proof of vaccination remains a condition of employment for all new City of Hamilton hires.
The City implemented its Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Verification Policy in August 2021, which remains in effect.
The Policy was amended in January 2022 to include termination of employment for employees who fail to disclose their status as fully vaccinated by May 31, 2022.
In May 2022, Council voted to extend the deadline for employees to provide proof of vaccination, or face termination of employment, to September 30, 2022.