The issue of mandatory vaccination has been at the forefront in Quebec in recent weeks, with the province requiring health-care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face suspension without pay.
Now the topic is trickling its way into the Montreal municipal election debate.
Mouvement Montréal’s Balarama Holness told Global News that if elected, he would make it a requirement for all municipal employees to be vaccinated.
The leader of Ensemble Montréal, Denis Coderre, said he also supports mandatory vaccination.
“I believe in that and I want to see what’s going on already but I think it’s everybody’s business, everybody who has a duty, and being with people I think that we need to do it,” he said.
“I agree with Minister Dubé when he focused on mandatory vaccination.”
Montreal wouldn’t be the first city to put in place a vaccine mandate for employees. Halifax, Calgary and Ottawa have all announced they’ll be asking employees to provide proof they are adequately protected against the virus.
Coderre pointed to Toronto as another example.
“John Tory is doing the right thing and I think that we should have mandatory (vaccination),” he said of that city’s mayor.
And while incumbent mayoral candidate Valérie Plante, of Projet Montréal, also supports having a vaccine mandate, she said it isn’t necessarily that simple.
“The mayor of Toronto, the City of Toronto, is in charge of vaccinations. The City of Montreal is not in charge of the vaccination. That’s a big difference,” she explained.
Plante said she would continue to work in collaboration with public health authorities to manage the pandemic.
“Of course I’m in favour of vaccination but I will not move alone with the vaccination of the public servants of the City of Montreal,” she said. “I’m working closely with public health and if they decide that that should be the case, based also on the decree by the government of Qubec, we’re ready we’ll do it.”
A spokesperson for Quebec’s Ministry of Health told Global News that its current decree only applies to workers in the health network but offered no indication whether that could be extended to include municipal employees such as police officers, firefighters or others who are in close contact with the public.
Ottawa’s mandatory vaccine policy is facing grievances filed by four unions representing municipal employees. Global News has reached out to the union representing municipal employees in Montreal, but has yet to hear back.
— with files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez