We’re almost two years into an ongoing pandemic, yet all the lessons learned in jurisdictions worldwide about vaccinations and public safety have apparently simply drifted past our inept and gormless council.
People are still getting ill and dying even in our own community, but our council is sort-of thinking about possibly sometime maybe in the future considering the potential to discuss the likelihood of looking at having a municipal vaccination policy. Or not to have one. And maybe they’ll even think about discussing the possibility of the likelihood of perhaps doing it before the pandemic ends.
According to a recent story in CollingwoodToday, our less-than-proactive mayor made a bold statement about… well, nothing. As usual:
“…we may have cause or not have cause to come back and revisit whether we would go toward the next step of a mandatory vaccination policy.”
Well, duh. That sure covers all the bases.
I suppose the idea of actually DOING something instead of bloviating about possibly but not possibly doing something in the undefined future is simply too much to ask of him. But then again, doing something for the good of the community isn’t on his radar, so this nebulous procrastination comes as no surprise to council watchers. After all, he abandoned his commitment to his oath of office and serve his term way back in January, and now is focused on getting that better-paying job in Queen’s Park so he can kiss Collingwood goodbye. You think he gives a damn about what happens here? Me either.
It’s hard to imagine from reading this story that anyone in town hall has been aware that a pandemic has been going on for almost two years.
Despite lockdowns, provincial vaccination mandates, hospitalizations, deaths, and daily news on every media about the crisis in our healthcare system from the unvaccinated, despite the Simcoe Muskoka District Medical Officer of Health recommending workplaces have vaccination policies MORE THAN A MONTH AGO, despite mandatory vaccinations required for all federal employees, and all air, train, and bus passengers, and despite the province issuing vaccination mandates for healthcare, long-term care, and education workers, this piffle is what the town has proposed:
Under the new reporting policy, staff and council would be asked to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to the human resources department.
If proof is not provided, the employee can provide a medical exemption with supporting documents, provide proof of their first dose, or declare, in writing, their intent not to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
In those three cases, employees would have to submit regular antigen testing and demonstrate negative results. If the employee has a medical exemption, the cost of the rapid antigen tests will be covered by the town. If the employee doesn’t have a medical exemption, the employee will be required to pay for the tests out-of-pocket.
If an employee does not intend to get vaccinated, they also must complete a vaccine education program approved by the town.
Nothing more than showing papers to indicate whether you have or have not had a vaccination (nothing of that sort was reported in the story). No requirements to actually have one, just show something or declare you won’t get one. You can still come to work unvaccinated and put your coworkers and their families at risk. No penalties for not being vaccinated, no moving unvaccinated people out of areas where they have contact with the public. No suspensions or unpaid leave until you get vaccinated. It’s business as usual, and the pandemic carries on.
A vaccine education program? Seriously? Do they sit in a classroom filling in tests? Do they get graded on it? Oh, dear, you got an “F” on herd immunity and a “D” on community responsibility. Never mind, get back to work.
Does anyone really imagine that facts and science will affect the social-media-inspired conspiracy claptrap that the anti-vaxxers fill their heads with? And then they’ll be allowed back into their jobs, unvaccinated, but “educated”? That’s an idea worthy of a facepalm.
Keep in mind that we pay staff a VERY healthy salary to come up with what amounts to a sort-of-thinking-about-it-but-not-really-committed-to-doing-anything-serious-let’s-wait-and-see approach. And yet the news EVERY SINGLE DAY has items about the continuing pandemic and the need for vaccinations.
You might expect at least one of our elected representatives to suggest that maybe a more rigorous approach was preferable. But when did our council ever show any concern over the wellbeing, safety or health of our residents? Why should this be any different? It’s not like they’re going to leap into action and start caring a couple of years after this thing started.
A dazed and confused Councillor “Lapdog” Madigan said,
“I just don’t want to be affected by this in a tourism-based town where we depend on our summer students in parks, rec and culture.”
Really, Bob? Where have you been hiding these past two years so that you didn’t notice the effect the pandemic has already had on our “tourism-based town”? And whose summer students are out among the public in our parks, our facilities, and downtown — or were you not aware of that? Not even a glimmer of intellect to light the darkness in your head? Hello? Anyone home in there?
And even though Amanda Pegg, the executive director of the curiously-yet-inappropriately-named “customer and corporate services” department*, admitted to council,
“There are municipalities that have implemented those policies. There is nothing today that suggests we could not implement a mandatory vaccination policy.”
The fact that they COULD implement an effective, safety-minded, community-positive policy that required vaccinations, and that dozens of municipalities have already done so, didn’t seem to move council to actually do it. After all, that would require decision-making, doing something, and possibly the scariest: thinking.**
Pegg then gave council its always-welcome excuse to deflect from actually doing something significant by adding, “We just thought this initial first step of gauging the magnitude of what we’re working with (would be prudent).” So our elected officials were happily able to avoid boldly going forward and still pat themselves on the back as if they had actually done something noteworthy. And after two years with hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 infections, and almost ten thousand deaths in Ontario,*** Collingwood is almost ready to “gauge” what we’re working with.
You can’t make this stuff up.
You’d think that by now, coming on two years into this pandemic, that the idea of being “prudent” was long past its best-before date. Being prudent hasn’t solved anything, hasn’t contained the virus, hasn’t stopped its spread, or people dying from it. Firm action is needed. But here’s Collingwood, offering a prudently outdated policy that is, in fact, a pointless, ineffective gesture in the face of an ongoing and deadly problem. What a debacle.
But wait, it gets even better: this sort-of-maybe–wishy-washy policy still has to be confirmed at the next meeting of council. Why wait? Why can’t council actually DO SOMETHING NOW? Because Collingwood uses a broken committee system designed to add bureaucratic molasses to every decision and slow the decision-making process to a crawl, while making public participation increasingly inconvenient.
Collingwood deserves better.
* Customer services departments are what you get in Canadian Tire, or Walmart, or other box stores. Residents are ratepayers. Taxpayers are NOT the town’s customers: we are their employers. It is demeaning to call us customers as if we were just shopping for toilet paper or waiting to return a broken air fryer.
** And reading, an activity our council loathes to engage in just in case they are confronted with actual facts that challenge their already-made-up minds.
*** As of Oct. 7, 2021, in Simcoe-Muskoka alone, there have been more than 13,300 infections, 260 deaths, and 138 cases are currently active. In Ontario, there have been almost 600,000 cases of infection, and almost 10,000 deaths since early February 2020.