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LETTER: Mayor and council must step up regarding vaccinations

My question to Mayor Darrin Canniff and the Chatham-Kent council is this: Where do you stand on making vaccinations mandatory for all municipal staff?

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The question comes after learning of the difficult but admirable decision by St. Clair College to mandate vaccinations for all students, staff, faculty, contractors and campus visitors. As an institution of significance in Chatham-Kent, this was a significant demonstration of leadership and community stewardship. What’s more impressive is that it supersedes the college’s previous position on vaccinations, where only athletes and students living in residence were required to be vaccinated.

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Knowing full well the wrath this may bring from some corners, St. Clair’s leaders were brave enough to recognize their initial policy did not go far enough to protect all stakeholders. Rather than save face and stand pat they did what’s right and fair and they expanded the mandate to help promote increased vaccinations. They knew it would have a ripple effect across the broader community. This leadership is something we are seeing far too little of in these troubled times.

And it makes me wonder where the leaders of our community stand and what they are doing to take action and help move our community through this pandemic. Are they doing everything possible?

We have reached another critical stage with summer soon ending and people moving indoors and kids returning to school. Vaccination rates have tailed off and infection rates are climbing because we have too many unvaccinated people.

It’s no longer fair that the majority of people (who are vaccinated) be held hostage or be at risk from the unvaccinated minority. Yes, the unvaccinated have a right to make that choice, but that does not automatically grant them all the freedoms of those who chose otherwise.

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With an election just announced, federal leaders are being forced to show their hand and declare their position on vaccinations. It may not be time for municipal elections, but Chatham-Kent citizens have a right and desire to know where our leaders stand on the same subject.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said all federal employees and employees of federally regulated services will require vaccinations. Medical officer of health Dr. David Colby has declared that vaccinations should be mandatory for health workers and he lauded the measures taken by Quebec leaders.

More and more corporations and events are announcing mandatory vaccinations for the right to participate.

Mayor Caniff and CAO Don Shropshire know vaccinations are the only way out of this pandemic (they have stated this recently) and they have the power to take further steps.

Perhaps they need to step up – like St. Clair College did – to set an example. That’s what good leaders do. And that’s what an overwhelming majority of Canadians and Chatham-Kent voters are expecting.

Once again, a huge thank-you and many kudos to St. Clair College’s leadership.

And so I close with the same question to Mayor Canniff and CK councillors: Where do you stand on demonstrating leadership and making vaccinations mandatory for all CK municipal staff?

Rick Youlton
Chatham

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