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Kingston city council votes for COVID-19 vaccination policy without threat to employment

Click to play video: 'Kingston city council votes for COVID-19 vaccination policy without threat to employment' Kingston city council votes for COVID-19 vaccination policy without threat to employment
Both Kingston councillors and city employees will have to declare their COVID-19 vaccination status by Jan. 3, 2022, or face weekly testing. – Nov 3, 2021

Tuesday night, Kingston city council approved a motion to implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy for municipal workers.

After a lengthy discussion at Tuesday’s council meeting, a motion was carried to implement a vaccination policy that will apply to both council and city employees, taking effect Jan. 3, 2022.

Read more: Kingston, Ont. city council to determine COVID vaccine mandate by next week

This means that all city staff will have to declare their vaccination status by that date.

If they do not share their vaccination status, or fail to provide proof of vaccination, then they will have to go through one-time training on the benefits of vaccination, and will have to be regularly tested for COVID-19. This will only apply to current employees, all new hires will have to be fully vaccinated, including with recommended booster shots.

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One of the issues council debated was whether city staff and employees should be included in the same motion. In the end, the decision was made to move forward with both councillors and employees alike.

Kingscourt-Rideau District Coun. Mayr-Rita Holland said it was important for councillors and city employees to show leadership on the matter.

“I think it’s very, very important, and I think Coun. Holland said it well: that we be seen to be taking a position on this,” said Lakeside District Coun. Wayne Hill.

Councillors Gary Oosterhof, Simon Chapelle and Ryan Boehme opposed the motion, citing the loss of people’s choice and the possibility of vaccine passports being lifted shortly after the policy’s implementation as some reasons.

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Transportation and public works commissioner Brad Joyce made it clear to council that the policy would not impact the employment of those who did not receive a vaccine.

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“Our policy allows staff not to be vaccinated, for any reason, and continue employment. They would just have to undergo the rapid antigen test at this point on a weekly basis,” Joyce said.

A survey already performed by city staff found that roughly 90 per cent of of city workers were fully vaccinated as of Oct. 5.

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