Nova Scotia

Richmond County council presses pause on mandatory vaccination policy

The draft policy is going back to committee for review before it gets adopted by council.

Warden Amanda Mombourquette says some councillors asking questions about legal aspects of the draft policy

A mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for municipal staff and council is on hold while councillors seek more information on the legality of the rule. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Richmond County's proposed policy on mandatory vaccination is on hold for now.

Councillors in the Nova Scotia municipality have been drafting a policy since October that would require staff and council to be immunized against COVID-19.

The policy came up for a vote on this week's council meeting agenda, but that's as far as it got.

"I offered to make that motion to adopt it, and as it turned out, there was no seconder. So it died on the table," said Coun. Brent Sampson.

Last fall, councillors voted to have staff draft a policy, which then went to the municipality's bylaw/policy committee.

In December, council voted in favour of a notice of motion to adopt the policy at a council meeting this month.

Richmond County Coun. Brent Sampson says he thought councillors were ready to approve the policy after working on it in committee for months. (Submitted by Brent Sampson)

Sampson said even though one councillor voted against that, he believed the rest of council was ready to approve the draft policy.

"That was the intent coming out of the bylaw/policy committee meetings," he said.

"Otherwise, if we weren't there yet, we probably would have kept trying to hash out what the majority would prefer to see. It just seemed surprising that there wasn't a seconder."

Senior staff also seemed to be on board with the policy, having spent time in committee helping shape it, Sampson said.

Warden Amanda Mombourquette said the policy is not dead, yet.

"It didn't move forward because councillors felt that we needed to do a little bit more homework," she said.

"Mostly what I'm hearing from them is they just want to make sure that the legality of the policy is in place, that we've got all of our legal i's dotted and t's crossed before we put that particular policy in place."

Warden Amanda Mombourquette says the code of conduct allows council to discipline members, but they cannot remove a councillor who has been elected to public office. (Brittany Wentzell/CBC)

The vote in December was one step in Richmond County's policy approval process, and the process worked as it should, Mombourquette said.

"That notice of motion did its job. People had a chance to become more aware of what was in the policy. Some councillors were talking with folks in their constituency and checking into some of the details of the policy," said the warden.

Mombourquette said the policy likely will come back to council, but first, it will go back to committee for further review.

"It's OK to do a little bit of extra homework and to make sure we're doing it right," she said.

"I'd rather it be right than it be rushed."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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