The public gallery was cleared of spectators during the latest general issues committee meeting at Hamilton City Hall.
The action was taken following a series of outbursts on Thursday, as councillors were receiving an update on potential legal costs associated with Hamilton’s COVID-19 vaccination policy for municipal employees.
Up to 264 city employees are facing termination or indefinite unpaid leave on Oct. 1, as a result of their vaccination status.
The cost to the city of proceeding with the mandatory vaccination policy is estimated at between $2.8 million and $7.4 million, based on a preliminary arbitration award involving Hamilton’s largest employees’ union.
Meeting chair Brad Clark cleared the gallery and called a recess, following a series of interruptions.
“Madam clerk, please indicate that we’re having a recess now. Have security clear the chambers,” Clark said.
He took the step after members of the public erupted in anger, following a speech by Ward 8 Coun. John Paul Danko, during which he called them “anti-vaxxers.”
“I will not be coerced!” one man hollered from the gallery, while another described himself as “vaccine-hesitant.”
Unvaccinated municipal employees continue to have the vocal support of Ward 7 Coun. Esther Pauls.
“Who am I as a city councillor,” said Pauls, “to say take this medicine, because if you don’t you will not eat, you will not be able to afford a house, you will be out in the street?”