Ontario Councillor Suspended for Non-Compliance With Municipal Vaccine Mandate

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An Ontario councillor has had 90 days of her remuneration suspended for allegedly breaching her municipality’s COVID-19 vaccine policy following an integrity commissioner investigation.

Tony Fleming, the integrity commissioner of Mississippi Mills township, said he received a code of conduct complaint on May 12 alleging that Councillor Cynthia Guerard had breached her municipality’s mandatory vaccination policy by attending two in-person council meetings that month but didn’t provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

“The Complaint alleges that the Member did not provide proof of vaccination and was therefore presumed unvaccinated,” Fleming’s report said. “Nevertheless, she attended the May 3 and 17 Council meetings in person and, when asked to leave chambers on the 17th because she was unvaccinated, simply sat outside of the chambers and joined in remotely.”

The municipality’s COVID-19 vaccination policy required all councillors, employees, volunteers, and contractors to be fully vaccinated with two doses of Health Canada-approved vaccines by Nov. 30, 2021, and provide proof to municipal chief administrative officer Ken Kelly.

The Epoch Times reached out to both Fleming and Kelly for comment but didn’t hear back by publication time.

During the Integrity Commissioner investigation, Guerard was asked whether she had been vaccinated before the Nov. 30 deadline, to which she said she declined to answer.

“I said, again, I would only provide that information to a health practitioner, which you are not, and I’m not going to share that information with you. And because I answered that way, he did not allow me to defend myself,” Guerard told The Epoch Times.

In his report, Fleming noted that Guerard defended her argument by citing parts of the Personal Health Information Protection Act. He said the Act “does not apply” to Guerard’s case, as the act states it is applied to “the collection of personal health information by a health information custodian.”

According to Fleming’s report, the councillor also said he has a conflict of interest being the integrity commissioner while also serving as the municipal solicitor.

“Prior to engaging as Integrity Commissioner in this specific complaint, the Integrity Commissioner considered the issue of potential conflict and satisfied himself that no conflict existed,” the report said in regard to Guerard’s claims.

Fleming concluded his investigation by saying that Guerard had breached the municipality’s COVID-19 policy and thereby the code of conduct. He then recommended the council suspend her remuneration for 90 days.

“I don’t think I have 90 days left. So I’m not sure if they’re going to come after me and ask me to pay them back money that I’ve already received,” Guerard said, pointing to the next Ontario municipal election in mid-October. The advanced voting period, scheduled for Oct. 7 to Oct. 14, is just over 50 days away.

Vaccine Mandate

Guerard said with Ontario lifting the provincial COVID-19 vaccination mandates and other restrictions in March, she finds the Mississippi Mills vaccine policy legally liable and could face legal challenges.

“I don’t believe the Municipal Act allows a municipality to make health decisions,” Guerard said.

“We are a creature of the province, and the province of Ontario dropped all mandates,” she said. “We are allowed to follow something that is being done by the province, but as soon as the province discontinued it, … our municipality can now be held legally liable and sued, and the province is no longer involved.”

Guerard said while the policy doesn’t prevent anyone from accessing municipal property, it has prevented her from properly representing those who voted for her because she was required to join all council meetings virtually, but at least two meetings were held in private.

A similar incident has also occurred to Dave Bylsma, the mayor of West Lincoln, a township in the Niagara region of Ontario.

Last week, Bylsma protested against his municipality’s COVID-19 vaccine policies after being denied access to the West Lincoln Community Centre, where he was originally scheduled to give a speech, due to his vaccination status.

On March 15, West Lincoln lifted its declaration of emergency related to COVID-19, and starting March 1, the township no longer required proof of vaccination for the public to access the West Lincoln Community Centre and Arena.

However, the municipal council decided to keep its vaccine policy in place for municipal staff members, meaning that Bylsma is allowed access to the facilities as a citizen, but not as a mayor.

Andrew Chen

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Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.



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