Castor town hall

Town of Castor approves new vaccination policy

The meeting package included a request for council’s decision on a Town of Castor vaccination policy

By Kevin J. Sabo

For the Advance

The new council of the Town of Castor has already had to make some tough decisions.

Part of the Oct. 25 council meeting package was a request for council’s decision on a Town of Castor vaccination policy. It was not something administration wanted to bring to council, however, due to changes made by Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) and the Alberta Workers Compensation Board (WCB), Chief Administration Officer Christopher Robblee felt like he didn’t have a choice.

“Employers are responsible to provide a safe and healthy work environment,” said Robblee.

“A couple of months ago, (OH&S and WCB) included COVID-19 in that definition.”

As part of that definition, according to Robblee, without having a vaccination policy in place, if an employee, whether vaccinated or not, were to contract COVID-19 at work, they, nor the Town, would be eligible for insurance.

“WCB has also said, if you are not vaccinated, you are not eligible for coverage,” said Robblee.

Without the coverage, the Town would be left liable if an employee were to become ill with the virus and be off work for a prolonged period of time.

Another change OH&S and WCB has made is that the onus is now on the employer to prove that the employer did not get sick while at work.

“The employer has to prove they didn’t get it at work,” said Robblee.

“How do you do that? I don’t see an easy solution. I would prefer not to do (this). Most municipalities are considering it but are gun-shy.”

The policy would see all Town of Castor employees be required to be double vaccinated by Jan. 1, 2022. Any employees not vaccinated by that time would be laid off, and if unvaccinated at the end of 90 days would be terminated.

In addition to Town of Castor employees, the policy would also cover contractors working under the Town, as well as the fire department, and council themselves. Robblee informed council that if the policy is passed, the Town would likely lose employees and firefighters.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” said Coun. Don Sisson, one of the rookie councillors attending his first meeting.

“It’s tough if we are going to lose a good employee over it, but I think we have to do it, because look at the money it could cost us.”

Coun. Brenda Wismer agreed that the policy needed to be passed but didn’t like the way OH&S and WCB were handling the matter.

“I hate being bullied,” said Wismer.

The policy was passed in a split vote.