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Owen Sound developing vaccination policy for staff, council

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Owen Sound is working on a COVID-19 vaccination policy for council and staff.

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City council unanimously approved, in a recorded vote Monday, a motion from Mayor Ian Boddy to direct staff to present a report on such a policy, which the resolution says will be designed to protect employees, contractors, volunteers and the public.

“There’s been a lot of policies passed in various municipalities – one recently at Grey County – and different businesses are doing it and I think it’s appropriate that we be able to move forward and give our staff and council and everybody a security of knowing what the framework is,” Boddy said while introducing his motion.

City manager Tim Simmonds told council that staff thinks this is the right time to create a vaccination policy. It will be developed by the city’s senior leadership team and human resources, he said.

The document will meet the needs, he said, of those who cannot be vaccinated.

It will be reviewed by the city’s legal counsel as well as the Grey Bruce Health Unit, he said.

Coun. Scott Greig said vaccination is a “very personal decision.

“I hope that our policy that comes forward recognizes the personalization of the vaccine on each person,” he said.

Grey County’s policy requires all eligible employees, student placements and volunteers to provide proof of vaccination or a medical exemption. If unvaccinated, they must complete a mandatory education session and be screened for COVID-19 at regular intervals, currently twice weekly, using a rapid antigen test.

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County council passed a motion at its Sept. 9 committee of the whole meeting to include Grey County council within the policy and requested a staff report regarding an immunization policy or guidelines for people visiting Grey County buildings.

About 90 per cent of Grey County’s long-term care staff has submitted proof of vaccination, county council heard, while just over 70 per cent of all other staff members have provided vaccination certificates.

Toronto, Hamilton and London are among the Ontario cities that have put in place mandatory vaccination policies.

The province has announced that, starting Sept. 22, people will have to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to access certain businesses and settings, such as indoor dining, nightclubs, meeting and event spaces, gyms and fitness facilities, sporting events, casinos and concerts.

On Sept. 1, Grey-Bruce medical officer of health Dr. Ian Arra issued a statement recommending that local employers develop a workplace vaccination policy to “protect their workers and the public from COVID-19.” Such a policy, he said, will identify the organization’s expectations regarding the immunization of employees.

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