COVID-19: Winnipeg councillors vote for vaccine mandate for elected officials

Coun. Vivian Santos. Global News / File

Winnipeg councillors who want to work in City Hall must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15.

Council made the decision Wednesday, two weeks after a vaccine mandate was announced for all front-line workers for the same date.

The new rules will apply not only to councillors and the mayor, but their staff as well.

Read more: Winnipeg mandates COVID-19 vaccine for front-line city staff

The motion passed near-unanimously, with Vivian Santos the only one to dissent.

“By asking others to respond to the questions relating to their vaccine status, we are then ultimately asking them to disclose personal health information,” she told her peers from a video call into council chambers.

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From there, “inaccurate assumptions” abound if someone is not vaccinated, she said.

“I want to make it abundantly clear I am not anti-vax, that I absolutely support citizens who have chosen to vaccinate themselves,” she added. “I also understand those who are not fully vaccinated.”

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Winnipeg mandates COVID-19 vaccine for front-line city staff

Santos said her views on bodily autonomy stem from sexual, mental and physical abuse she has suffered in the past, as well as a recent anaphylactic seizure.

“So today it is very difficult for me personally to coerce anyone to take the vaccine.”

Coun. John Orlikow, however, said city staff have been working diligently on the issue to protect citizens.

“This is our expert staff… Unfortunately, we aren’t experts, and to ask city councillors to be experts in vaccinations is very troublesome, we shouldn’t be doing that.”

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“So we’re going to follow the lead of our experts.”

Councillors and staff required to be vaccinated will have their first dose no later than Sept. 30 and their second by Oct. 28 to be fully vaccinated by the deadline.

Read more: Manitoba doctors call for COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all health care workers

In late August, Manitoba announced all government employees working with vulnerable people must be fully-vaccinated by Oct. 31 — or face regular testing.

Those employees include health care workers, teachers, early-learning providers, prison guards and all government employees, including members of the legislature.

— with files from Shane Gibson

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