Orangeville resident inquires with Council about COVID-19 vaccination policy

January 13, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

A local resident who was recently removed from Orangeville’s Joint Accessibility Committee for failing to disclose her COVID-19 vaccination status, had a delegation before Town Council during a regular meeting on Monday (Jan. 10).

Peggy Bond, who served as co-chair on the committee, began her delegation by asking what evidence, written documentation, or report, supports a mandatory vaccination policy for the Town of Orangeville.   

Mayor Sandy Brown responded by saying that Council is following higher levels of government and the advice of public health officials, but doesn’t have any specific reports or documentation that he could produce for Bond at the meeting.

Town CAO Ed Brennan chimed in next, noting that the mandatory vaccine policy is “Based on recommendations or the advice of science”.

“We are looking at protecting our workforce and our staff, and we feel that vaccinations is the best way of doing that, and that is our policy,” he remarked.

Bond replied by reiterating her question, which was what kind of written documentation or evidence did the Town use to justify its mandatory vaccination policy?

“I’m sure that you know that the responsibility of leadership, which includes municipal council members, is to ensure that they carry out due diligence,” she said. “The policy that you have enacted, has led to people like myself being removed from committees and people losing their jobs, and I’m just asking to say, what kind of written documentation do you have to demonstrate the due diligence, and to ensure that you are carrying out the responsibilities of your elected positions?

“Do you have any written documentation to produce any reports?” Bond asked.  

Mayor Sandy Brown responded by saying medical journals have indicated that vaccination for COVID-19 is helping to mediate the pandemic, and while he doesn’t have anything in front of him at the meeting, he can attest that there is lots of medical evidence in support of vaccinations for COVID-19.

“I’m not prepared to produce it, but we have reams of medical evidence,” he said.

Bond responded that she understands what Mayor Brown is saying but would like to see for herself the written evidence that Council used to enact their mandatory vaccination policy.

She noted that in her submission to Council’s Jan. 10 agenda she included 140 scholarly articles that support not having vaccine mandates, so she’s looking for evidence from the other side that is in support of them.

Mayor Brown said if Bond has 140 scholarly articles speaking against mandates, he imagines there’s probably 10,000 in support of them, but said “we’ll have to dig into that a little bit deeper and we can respond to you.”

To which Bond said she was pleased to hear, and looks forward to receiving that documentation from the Town.

Her second question to Council pertained to her removal from Orangeville’s Joint Accessibility Committee, which meets virtually.

She asked how and why she was removed since the committee does not meet in-person, questioning how it makes anyone safer from COVID-19.

Mayor Brown noted that the decision was taken in the fall, at a time when Council was hoping to begin getting back to in-person meetings.

Brennan said he didn’t have much to add onto what Mayor Brown said, other than that mandatory vaccination is their policy.

“I think we could sit down and debate the merits of vaccination policy for or against, for eternity. We could speak many, many days on it potentially. The fact of the matter is, there are policies in place to protect the health and safety of our staff and our residents. The policy is the policy, and that’s where we stand at this point,” he remarked.

Coun. Todd Taylor offered his sympathies to Bond over the impacts of the mandatory vaccination policy.

“I guess I just wanted to share with you, I do think it’s an absolute shame that people have lost their jobs,” he said. “I don’t know, you Ms. Bond, but you seem like an intelligent, caring individual who wants to help out her town and disappointed that you can’t be on a committee.

“The sad thing is, I think when you sit in these chairs, you have to make decisions based on the facts that you’re given, and the feelings that you have at the time, and you do the best job that you possibly can as you move forward,” Coun. Taylor added.

He acknowledged that it didn’t make much sense for Bond to be removed from a committee that meets virtually, but agrees with Mayor Brown’s comments that at the time the policy was made, it appeared in-person meetings would be coming back.

“The reality is if it [the pandemic] was almost over and we were in our buildings, I wouldn’t be comfortable having people who weren’t fully vaccinated into those offices, so I’m not sure what we would do at this point, the decision’s been made,” Coun. Taylor said. “We did it with the best the best information that we had at the time, and I certainly would stand by that decision, as we all sit here today.”

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