Following is the full text of a statement issued late Sunday night (Oct. 31, 2021) by Coun. Denis Walsh:
Councillor Denis Walsh says the City of Kamloops is doing a poor job of bringing forward a proposed vaccination policy, which could result in many innocent hardworking people being unnecessarily permanently harmed by job loss, with little or no benefit to anyone. “It’s a step too far,” he said.
Walsh issued a press release Sunday following a flurry of critical comments from city officials in response to a recent newspaper article outlining his opposition to a proposed city vaccine mandate.
He said he’s had a lot of feedback on both sides from the public relative to his position, with the majority supporting him. He said much of the criticism he’s heard is coming mostly in media articles and seems to be based on emotionalism. Walsh said he is forming his position based on documented credible science and legal opinions.
“I can back up my position with credible information,” Walsh said, “but I’m concerned the reality seems to be that many city officials have already rushed to judgment and are bringing forward another back-room decision on a major issue without being open to proper public engagement and debate, and allowing a public council vote.
“This is not a routine operational procedure, this is a major policy for our city. This is a huge, precedent-setting decision with far-reaching unknown consequences.
“Being vaccinated does not guarantee that you can’t be unknowingly carrying Covid and capable of spreading it to others, so anyone who thinks that is the case is deluding themselves,” he said.
Walsh said this issue is so important to so many people in the city that Council needs to take leadership and have public input and debate and a council vote.
Walsh quoted the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) saying Sep. 15, 2021, that “Investigations are ongoing to further assess the risk of transmission from fully vaccinated persons with…infections to other vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Early evidence suggests infections in fully vaccinated persons caused by the Delta variant…may be transmissible to others.”
Walsh also said there is a large potential for legal jeopardy with forcing employees to be vaccinated or face losing their jobs. He quoted the BC Human Rights Commissioner position stating that employers can in “limited circumstances” implement a mandatory vaccination policy “if other less intrusive means of preventing COVID-19 transmission are inadequate for the setting,” but Walsh said this does not fit the city workplace.
He said that BC human rights law requires that any vaccination mandate must be “necessary due to a lack of less-intrusive alternatives: vaccination policies should be a last resort, relied on only if other methods—such as social distancing, implementing work from home policies, and wearing masks—are ineffective.”
Walsh said “There may be some workplaces where this could possibly apply, but working in your office at city hall or driving a garbage truck would not meet this criteria in my judgment,” he said. “I’m sure there are some lawyers out there specializing in employment law and human rights law gearing up for all the potential legal challenges about to emerge.
“The City of Kamloops needs to focus more on the less intrusive methods clearly spelled out in human rights law according to the Human Rights Commissioner.”