Hamilton council scraps mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for staff

City of Hamilton employees are no longer required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

City council voted 9-4 to scrap the vaccine policy for staff at a meeting Friday morning.

Councillors Maureen Wilson, Jason Farr, Nrinder Nann, Tom Jackson, Esther Pauls, Brad Clark, Maria Pearson, Lloyd Ferguson and Arlene VanderBeek voted in favour of eliminating the requirement.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, as well as councillors Russ Powers, John-Paul Danko and Judi Partridge voted against it.

This decision comes one year after council approved a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination verification policy requiring all city employees to show proof or be terminated.

“I am thrilled and relieved that my council colleagues have voted to rescind this very controversial policy,” Pauls said in a media release Friday.

Pauls said over 200 city staff who are on unpaid leaves of absence will now no longer need to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to the city by Sept. 30 in order to keep their jobs.

A recent staff report indicated that keeping the vaccine policy could cost nearly $7.3 million.

“Not only is it a win for these staff members, it’s also a win for taxpayers as they won’t be burdened by the city with millions of dollars for such a rigid, ideological stance,” Pauls said.