The largest municipality in the Canadian province of Alberta has blacklisted companies and their employees who utilize mandatory vaccination policies from conducting business within county borders.
In a policy approved unanimously during a Feb. 15 meeting of the Council of Mackenzie County, the administration dictated that while the County would honor contracts with businesses with mandatory vaccine policies for the time being, they will no longer be able to operate or sign new contracts in the region.
The story was originally broken by independent media outlet Rebel News on Feb. 18 when a letter sent by the County’s Reeve to utilities company ATCO Electric was leaked by an anonymous individual.
According to Feb. 23 reporting by Postmedia conglomerate member Calgary Sun, any employees of businesses with mandatory vaccination policies are not granted permission to enter workspaces in the municipality, which is located in the upper-west corner of Alberta.
The newly-minted policy is still open to amendments. Businesses with vaccine mandates currently in place are allowed to fulfill their ongoing contracts, provided that they utilize remote work or subcontract firms who do not carry such edicts.
Byron Peters, interim Chief Administrative Officer of the County, spoke on behalf of his community by stating that they were “appalled” by the governmental and corporate response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“Corporate use of coercion and intimidation towards employees to dictate personal health choices are inappropriate,” Peters concluded in a statement released on the matter and viewable on the CBC.
“We will not work with companies that tolerate or promote such behaviour,” he added.
Mackenzie County is the largest county in Alberta, making up approximately 12 percent of the province’s overall landmass; their recent 2018 census data boasts Canada’s highest share of children, and indicates a population of more than 12,000 people.
The municipality has been targeted by media outlets for having the lowest vaccine uptake level in Alberta, with only 32.1 percent of the population receiving 2 doses, according to government statistics accessed Feb. 23.
By comparison, Alberta as a whole boasts a 75.7 percent double vaccination rate among the eligible.
Instead, the most populated town in the area has found an alternative solution.
CBC reported that more than 1,200 residents of La Crete paid for antibody testing in December, and that 89 percent of the unvaccinated population tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
The testing was conducted by Ichor Blood Services, a company primarily based in Alberta, which was the first province to launch serology testing in Canada.
According to their website, Ichor Blood provides various COVID-19 testing services, including PCR tests, rapid tests, and quantitative antibody tests, which provide a more specific conclusion than a mere positive or negative result.
They also provide vitamin D testing. Emerging research indicates that vitamin D helps combat the effects of COVID-19.
Ichor CEO Mike Kuzmickas commented on the results from the hamlet’s testing regimen, calling it good news. In spite of the findings, the Alberta government cautions against serology tests on its website, citing the possibility of false positive or false negative results.
However, the Province does not comment specifically on the quantitative tests utilized by Ichor, continuing to assert that civilians must continue to follow all public health measures regardless of antibody test results.
Notably, the website mentions that “if you’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not yet known how this will affect the antibody test results.”
Despite the disengaged governmental reaction to serology testing, Mackenzie County’s noteworthy policy might bring more attention to alternative methods of managing COVID-19.
Kuzmickas noted in his interview with CBC that “half a dozen municipalities” had contacted his firm, interested in large-scale testing. Whether methods such as this become as popular as vaccination is yet to be seen.