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LETTERS: Candidates comment on vaccine mandates; Hidden Valley parents seek transparency

A survey of municipal candidates on mandatory vaccination
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A survey of municipal candidates on mandatory vaccination

(Ed. note: This letter was received by the Yukon News on Oct. 14, rendering some responses outdated in light of recent restrictions.)

What do Whitehorse candidates think about COVID-19 vaccine requirements? I asked them by email on November 7/8.

Should city employees and contractors who may come in touch with the public be required to be vaccinated? (Assuming those who can’t get vaccinated due to serious medical reasons are accommodated.)

While many candidates for city council responded, I received only one response from mayoral candidates (Patti Balsillie). Every respondent stated that COVID-vaccination is important, many volunteering that they themselves were vaccinated.

Doug Graham, Kirk Cameron, and Robin Reid-Fraser clearly support a vaccine requirement, as does Dave Blottner “if it is legal to do.” Michelle Friesen wants city council to “strongly consider” it. Graham would also require taxi drivers to be vaccinated.

Cam Kos doesn’t support vaccines mandates, unless a public electronic plebiscite would decide for it. Telek Rogan thinks “that we have achieved herd immunity”, which would make vaccine requirements unnecessary. Judging from a further exchange, Rogan wasn’t so sure about herd immunity any more.

Several others don’t want to commit either way, but promise to follow expert advice: Balsillie and Noah Curtis look for standards (Balsillie) or guidelines (Curtis) set out by the YG’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. (As the law stands, the CMOH can’t issue a vaccine mandate.)

Michelle Christensen-Toews “outed” herself as a registered health and safety professional, who worked as an emergency planner during the H1N1 pandemic. She is OK with the City currently not requiring vaccinations, but pointed to the ebb and flow of the pandemic. If a future hazard assessment were to indicate the need, she would act on it.

Likewise, Jocelyn Curteanu wants to heed recommendations of health experts.

Dan Boyd is torn. He doesn’t like government telling people what to do, but he accepts that vaccine mandates may become necessary. He promises to take health expert advice into “strong consideration”. Melissa Murray indicated a forthcoming answer. I didn’t receive responses from the remaining candidates by Oct. 14.

I also asked all candidates about vaccine requirements for access to public city services such as the Canada Games Centre and transit (again accommodating those who can’t get vaccinated, including children). All candidates answered in the same manner as for city employees, with these exceptions: Friesen wants to follow the advice of the CMOH, Blottner doesn’t want a requirement in “the current situation”, while Curteanu hoped for other effective protection before a vaccine requirement as a “last resort”. Reid-Fraser supports a requirement, but wouldn’t enforce it for private rentals of city facilities. And she expects transit users to be either vaccinated or masked.

Daniel Sokolov

An open letter to Premier Sandy Silver regarding Hidden Valley,

I am one of many Hidden Valley parents who heard Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee on CBC radio Thursday morning.

In the news story, her comments suggested that parents don’t want the issue of the sexual assault that occurred at our school to be all over the media and to take up question period in the Legislative Assembly.

Please do not presume what parents want or don’t want.

Here is the thing: the sexual assault happened and the government did not tell us it happened. Now parents are asking why and they want to know what you are going to do differently the next time something like this occurs in a Yukon school. We are determined to get answers because children’s lives and their future well-being depend on it. The fact that the government has not answered these questions has required the prolonged, public airing of this issue.

We can’t change what happened in the past, but there is a very simple, constructive way we can move forward. I urge you and your cabinet colleagues to answer questions directed to you by the media, in the legislature and by Hidden Valley parents. These questions are asked in the public interest and should be answered immediately, directly and truthfully:

Why didn’t the government tell parents about the sexual assault? What new measures are in place to ensure that government will not impede timely communication to parents (respecting the privacy of victims) when a traumatic incident occurs at any Yukon school?

Until we get answers to these questions and appropriate action is taken, I’d like you and your cabinet colleagues to know that I (and many other Yukoners) will continue to want the issue of the communications around the sexual assault that occurred at Hidden Valley School to be discussed publicly.

This is not the time for secrets or redirection. As parents, we ask our children to own their mistakes and learn from them, and I think all adults responsible for their safety should embrace that behaviour too.

Sincerely,

Clea Roberts



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