by John Boivin,
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Valley Voice
Kaslo council re-inserted itself into the vaccine mandate debate with a motion to send a letter to higher levels of government calling on vaccine mandates to be lifted for health care workers.
The debate began when Councillor Kellie Knoll, who’s voiced opposition to public health measures since the beginning of the pandemic, asked council to reconsider a motion from the village’s Health Care Select Committee.
That committee defeated a motion on July 8 to send a letter to the provincial health minister and Interior Health officials “requesting that vaccine mandates be lifted to address the critical situation in health care and medical support services.”
Knoll said no one could deny the health care system is under strain, and he said with 5,000 qualified workers not allowed to work because of the mandates, the system needed to adjust. He also warned councillors that how they voted on this might come back at them at the polls.
“The elections are coming up in two months, and how you vote on this will basically show the general public at large whether you stand for an inclusive, co-operative community, or whether you stand for the mandates of division, fear and a seclusion-future system,” he told council.
The motion passed, but not all councillors were on board. Councillor Rob Lang reiterated his past feelings on weighing in on public health policy.
“I am totally unqualified to make that decision,” he said. “I’m not a healthcare professional and I trust the people in charge to make the right decisions and I cannot support the motion.”
But Councillors Henry Van Mill and Molly Leathwood supported the motion, so Mayor Suzan Hewat, who sits on the health committee, didn’t have to make her vote known.
Knoll also removed a clause in the original motion that included the media in the letter’s distribution.
“The media doesn’t have to be involved,” he said.