Though unwilling to take a stand for or against vaccine cards, Sicamous council was open to listening to a delegation opposed to the upcoming provincial health requirement.
Coun. Gord Bushell said “I hear ya,” to the delegation at council’s Sept. 8 meeting, but added council doesn’t have the power to ignore a provincial mandate. Bushell said he hadn’t yet reviewed how vaccine cards would be rolled out, so he couldn’t comment on the situation.
“We have to understand it ourselves first, and then we can talk about it,” he said.
Mayor Terry Rysz then added his take to the conversation.
“We have a (provincial) NDP government, that has a majority. They can mandate whatever they wish. I sympathize with your concerns. I tend to agree with a lot of them as well.”
B.C.’s vaccine card will be implemented Sept. 13, when proof of one vaccine dose will be required for a variety of non-essential activities. By Oct. 24, proof of two doses will be required.
Rysz was unsure what council could do for the delegation, and also said council is bound by the provincial government. He suggested the delegation get on the agenda of a Columbia Shuswap Regional District board meeting, and present what they presented to Sicamous council there as well.
Rysz said there’s no question the vaccine card mandate would impact Sicamous businesses.
“There’s a lot of questions, and there’s no answers to some of this stuff,” he said.
A recent survey of Sicamous business owners on vaccine cards by the District of Sicamous Chamber of Commerce found 18 owners supported cards. In opposition were 17, while four were undecided.
It also asked business owners if they’d support cards if it meant no more business lockdowns. In that case, 26 said they’d support them. Remaining opposed were 12. A total of 101 business owners were sent the survey on Aug. 27.
“We can always give a message based on what council’s appetite is in regards to supporting (the delegation) in this movement,” said Rysz. “We’ll have that conversation, but we’re not going to have it today because it’s too convoluted, it’s intense and there’s a lot of moving parts to it.”
The mayor said it seems more and more within Canada’s democracy that people’s rights and privileges are being taken away.
“If we take one side, or if we take the other side, it’s a no-win situation for us at the end of the day,” said Rysz, adding aggressive movements on both sides of the vaccine card debate put council in a challenging position.
Coun. Jeff Mallmes said the only thing he’d stand against was if people were to be denied health care because they were unvaccinated.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia’s (CPSBC) has said unvaccinated patients must be given the same access to care as vaccinated patients.
“It would be indefensible from an ethical point of view for a registrant to require documented proof that a patient has been vaccinated as a prerequisite for attending their office,” said CPSBC in Volume 9 of its College Connector publication.