MACKENZIE COUNTY — Alberta’s largest and most northern county says it is no longer working with local businesses that have a mandatory vaccination policy.
Mackenzie County says businesses that require employees, contractors or subcontractors to show
proof of vaccination segregation ID in workplaces or on work sites will not be hired to provide goods or services.
“Mackenzie County does not tolerate mandatory vaccination or any other discriminatory requirements for any employee,” a document outlining the latest policy says.
The county’s council approved the policy on Feb. 16.
A spokesman for the county says in a letter that vaccine mandates violate personal rights and freedoms and will not be tolerated.
“Mackenzie County is appalled by the response to COVID-19 that many governments and corporations have evoked,” said Byron Peters, the county’s interim chief administrative officer.
“Corporate use of coercion and intimidation towards employees to dictate personal health choices are inappropriate, and we will not work with companies that tolerate or promote such behaviour.”
Provincial data shows the county has the lowest vaccination rate in Alberta. Just over 38 per cent of its roughly 9,500 residents have had their first COVID-19 shot and just over 32 per cent have had a second.
Peters says in the letter that the county will be honouring existing contracts it has with businesses, including ones that have a vaccine mandate, for the time being.
“However, your employees will not be permitted to enter Mackenzie County premises or job sites,” he adds.
Peters says all companies with a vaccination policy that are employed by the county need to work remotely or make arrangements to hire a subcontractor that does not have a similar policy.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2022.
In a letter dated Feb. 17, Mackenzie County’s interim chief administrative officer Byron Peters writes the county is “appalled” by the COVID-19 response that governments and corporations have taken “by repeatedly violating personal rights and freedoms.”
The letter cites that on Feb. 16, the Mackenzie County council decided it “does not tolerate mandatory vaccination or any other discriminatory requirements for any employee, contractor, or sub-contractor at Mackenzie County workplaces or for any work sites” within the northern Alberta county that spans 80,000 square kilometres.
Any companies with an existing contract with the county that also has a mandatory vaccination policy in place will have their contract honoured for the time being. However, employees will not be permitted to enter Mackenzie County premises or job sites. All work would have to be completed remotely, or subcontracted to another company that does not have a vaccine policy in place.
“Corporate use of coercion and intimidation towards employees to dictate personal health choices are inappropriate, and we will not work with companies that tolerate or promote such behaviour,” the letter states.
In an interview, Mackenzie County Reeve Joshua Knelsen said the decision to not work with companies that have a vaccine mandate was made unanimously by council. He believes it’s time to move on from the pandemic.
“After a couple of years already of seeing how lives have been negatively affected with all the restrictions and mandates and taking away people’s choices, it’s time to stop,” Knelsen said. “It’s evil, it is absolutely evil what we’ve seen going on, and just the mismanagement of the situation is sickening.”
He believes with vaccine mandates, people have been “bullied and coerced” into getting the vaccine.
“I don’t care if somebody wants to take it. But I do care that somebody feels that people are to be treated like animals, as slaves, so that they don’t have a choice,” he said.
“If they want to come to work, that they need to take and do this or else you will not have the opportunity to provide for your family, that is just wrong and that it’s not something that we can support.”