Corp Comm Connects

Newmarket mayor calls for vaccination mandates

Councillors met privately yesterday to consider a requirement that town staff be vaccinated
Aug. 25, 2021
Joseph Quigley

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor says he supports COVID-19 vaccine mandates, as the town weighs implementing them for staff.

Town council discussed mandates in an in-camera session Aug. 23. A special council meeting was scheduled to take place after the session, in case council decided to immediately go ahead with a vaccine mandate, however, council ultimately cancelled the second meeting.

Taylor said while he cannot disclose in-camera conversations, he personally believes wholeheartedly in installing strong vaccination policies, which are needed to keep the community safe.

“The fall is going to become very challenging. We’re still in the midst of a very serious pandemic,” Taylor said. “I believe we need to look very seriously at forms of mandatory vaccination requirements.”

The City of Toronto announced a mandatory vaccination policy Aug. 19. Officials from both the town and York Region have indicated they are considering similar policies.

The town discussion was private, as it is subject to solicitor-client privilege. Taylor said the town is exploring the legal considerations of mandating vaccinations.

He further said most, if not all, municipalities in the GTA are exploring all options. He added although the town could go forward with a policy without the region, consistency would be better.

“Ideal scenario, any position is as consistent as possible among the various towns, cities and regions in the GTA,” Taylor said.

COVID-19 cases across the province have risen in recent weeks. York Region has also struggled in getting more people to get their first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine this summer. Approximately 82.9 per cent of York residents age 12 and older have received their first dose.

The federal government has announced a vaccination mandate for the federal public service and commercial air travellers. Other provinces, including British Columbia and Quebec, are also introducing vaccine passports, but Ontario has yet to announce any such system.

Taylor said it is something every level of government and the private sector need to be considering.

“This isn’t something we like in government, we don’t like having to put restrictive and controlling measures in place,” Taylor said, adding action is needed with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise. “The numbers in the fall will be dramatically higher than they are now.”

Taylor said medical and religious exemptions would likely apply, as have been included in other vaccine mandates. He also said municipalities could implement mandatory testing regimes for the unvaccinated, but he has not fully formed an opinion on the concept.

Taylor said the topic would likely come up at the next meeting Aug. 30.