With mandated vaccinations and passports a topic of discussion among governments and employers, CAO Marnie Cluckie said Niagara-on-the-Lake is monitoring what other municipalities are doing, and waiting to hear recommendations from regional Public Health.
She said she expects to be advising on the matter “very soon.”
Although the province has reached its vaccination milestone to move forward in its recovery period, it is not ready to move out of Step 3, she said.
It is also updating the eligibility of vaccines, offering third doses to select high-risk people with decreased immune systems, she said.
Vaccinations remain the best defence against COVID, she said, with less than one per cent of COVID cases from those who are fully vaccinated.
Toronto already has mandatory vaccination in place as do several employers, who are requiring employees to be fully vaccinated.
NOTL is working on a “recovering, reopening and reimagining plan” to recover safely, including returning to in-person, and having staff take appointments with residents.
The plan will provide an opportunity to “build back even stronger,” Cluckie said, following on the “tremendous adaptability” to deliver services in different ways during the pandemic.
The plan looks at customer-focused service delivery including digitized, to be even better than pre-COVID, she said.
She expects Monday’s meeting will include a discussion of resuming in-person council meetings.
For those who aren’t fully vaccinated, she said, there will be clinics at the community centre Sept. 5 and 6, and tentatively there is one set for Sept. 29.
All clinics are now allowing walk-ins, but appointments can still be made at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/
Lord Mayor Betty Disero told councillors Monday she expects mandatory masks will be discussed Thursday at the regional council meeting, and her hope is that once the region has determined where it’s going with masks, all municipalities will follow that template.
“I don’t think it’s to anybody’s benefit for municipalities to act alone,” she said.
She told The Local she feels the same about mandatory vaccinations.
Before discussions begin at the municipal level, she would like to see regional recommendations from Public Health, so that any decisions made will be based on medical advice, and not for political reasons.
“I think there should be a uniform policy across the region and we need to follow regional recommendations.”
Once that occurs, she’d like to see all Niagara municipalities use the same template.
If vaccinations become mandatory for town hall staff, she adds, “at that point what to do if people say no, how do you deal with that.”
Whatever the decision, “I’d prefer the region and municipal councillors work together.”
She is looking forward to the discussion expected next week about in-person council meetings, she said.
“It’s all about health and safety,” she said, and whatever councillors and staff feel comfortable with.
When in-person meetings resume, if some members of the public don’t feel comfortable with that, there will be accommodations made so they can still have input “and say what they want to say.”
Disero says she is looking forward to being able to walk down the hall to speak with staff in person, or have people attend public meetings in person.
“I can hardly wait for the day we start meeting in person.”
The events she attends currently are either outdoors, or masked indoors.
“I’ll be happy to meet in person, in some way, shape or form.”