TNRD directors have one clear dissenter to a vaccine mandate for employees, directors | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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TNRD directors have one clear dissenter to a vaccine mandate for employees, directors

One director was outspoken against a potential vaccine policy at the Oct. 21 Thompson Nicola Regional District board meeting.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO

Thompson Nicola Regional District directors are looking at implementing their own COVID-19 vaccine policy for staff and the chair of the board believes it's important in order to appear as leaders in the community.

The conversation about a vaccine policy sprung at the Oct. 22 board meeting in response to the possibility of a mandate coming for regional district employees.

"(Staff) are planning to mandate vaccines for all employees and we thought it would be appropriate — especially if we're going to appear as leaders in the community — for all directors to be mandated to be vaccinated," regional district board chair Ken Gillis said. "I think most of us are smart enough that if we're telling staff and volunteers to be vaccinated, it would be pretty silly if we did not do the same."

READ MORE: Kelowna brings in mandatory vaccination policy for city staff

Gillis said the result of a vaccine policy guaranteeing that all present in the board meeting were vaccinated would make him feel safer.

But a lone dissenter in the group believes that is an infringement on his, and the public's, right to choose for themselves.

"I'm not an anti-vaxxer. I'm for the freedom of choice. If I choose not to get vaccinated, that's my choice," regional district director and mayor of Cache Creek, Santo Talarico, said. "I'm standing up for the citizens of my community."

Talarico is disturbed by vaccine mandates putting employee's jobs in jeopardy, namely healthcare workers, but he looks to be alone in his opposition to the potential policy.

READ MORE: COVID-19 exposures at Kamloops nightclub live show

Talarico also added that in public, he wears a mask and follows all other health directives as his responsibility to keep from potentially spreading the virus, while accepting that he cannot enter certain public settings or events because of his choice to not be vaccinated.

Staff at the regional district are looking into how vaccines could be mandated for directors and the issue will return to another future meeting. It's not clear yet exactly what that potential policy could look like, but Talarico said he would welcome a rule that states he would have to attend virtually if he cannot enter the board room without being vaccinated.

Similar vaccine policies are already being implemented for municipal staff in Kelowna and Kamloops, but they have until December to comply with the new rules.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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