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Salmon Arm council adopts mandatory vaccine policy for staff, elected officials

Policy in effect Jan. 3, staff to investigate inclusion of independent contractors in the policy
Salmon Arm council adopted a mandatory vaccination policy on Nov. 15, to come into effect Jan. 3 (File photo)

The City of Salmon Arm has adopted a proof of vaccination policy for its staff, volunteers and elected officials.

On Nov. 15, city council voted unanimously to adopt the mandatory vaccination policy prepared by staff at the direction of council. It comes into effect Jan. 3, 2022.

Independent contractors who work for the city are not included in the policy, but staff will bring forward recommendations in early January about how that will be addressed.

A report to council from Erin Jackson, acting chief administrative officer, and Sue Wood, manager of human resources, states: “CUPE Local 1908 has requested that contractors be required to attest to their vaccination status and Human Resources heard from a number of employees that they also support this.”

Jackson said staff comunicated with the public as well as employees leading up to the policy’s creation, as directed by council.

The timeline allows for full vaccination before Jan. 3.

The policy contains a provision to accommodate those who can provide proof that they are unable to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 because of a protected ground under the Human Rights Code.

“The city will work with the elected official or employee…to develop and implement an appropriate accommodation plan, to the point of undue hardship,” reads the policy, recommending that people requesting such accommodation submit their request promptly to meet the deadline, as a request may take time to review.

For employees who don’t provide proof of vaccination and don’t submit an accommodation request, actions from the city may include, but aren’t limited to, an unpaid leave of absence and/or disciplining the employee up to and including termination of employment.

The policy can be found under City of Salmon Arm agendas, special council meeting, Nov. 15, 9 a.m.

Read more: Council to consider mandatory vaccine policy for Salmon Arm council, staff on Nov. 15

Read more: Vaccination policy coming for Columbia Shuswap Regional District staff, elected officials

Mayor Alan Harrison noted at the Nov. 15 meeting that the city has received emails and phone calls about the policy, and will continue to welcome written submissions that can be sent by emailing ‘mayor and council’ on the city’s website at the City of Salmon Arm.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren asked if exceptions or accommodation are being made where people can choose to have rapid testing every morning.

Jackson said staff were not provided that as an option from council. She also said she supports the policy fully.

Coun. Tim Lavery asked why independent contractors are not included in this version of the policy.

Jackson said staff need to have full consultation as well as a better understanding of legal implications first.

Lavery said other municipal governments are including in their policies independent contractors working for or on behalf of the city who are required to work in local government facilities.

He said he would like to see that included in the city’s policy, as did Couns. Kevin Flynn and Debbie Cannon.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said it is council’s responsibility to make decisions that keep employees safe who offer essential and specialized services to all community members.

“I will not risk having any of those services further interrupted. We have a vaccine that is demonstratively effective, minimizing the risk of an outbreak or severe illness…It would be irresponsible of me to not vote in favour of this policy.”

Flynn clarified that council doesn’t manage the school district and the policy is not related to schools or teachers.

Lavery emphasized his appreciation for the efforts and dedication of all city employees, both those who support and those who have concerns about the policy.

He said the situation is not easy for anyone but COVID is here and it’s real.

“COVID vaccines reduce spread, they minimize hospitalizing and they almost eliminate death.”

He said his hope is that people will continue to be kind to each other, “even while we make these difficult but, in my view, necessary decisions.”

Lavery also thanked the rest of council, pointing out that all have been consistent in urging all residents to get vaccinated for their own protection, for the health of their communities and the health of their families.

Harrison thanked the online and in-person members of the gallery for being respectful.

Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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