Employment and training facility defends COVID vaccination policy, addresses misinformation

OHSWEKEN — Grand River Employment and Training and their board GRETI, says they have made a decision to alter their COVID-19 vaccination policy to allow for non-vaccinated individuals to provide negative COVID test results in order to have access to their buildings.

The organization oversees several large education, employment and training facilities on the territory including the GREAT Opportunity Centre at 16 Sunrise Court in Ohsweken, the Kayanase Ecological Restoration facility on Highway 54, the OSTTC Multi-Trades Building and the OSTTC Longhouse.

The organization was required to implement a vaccination policy by September 7 by the province. The policy was given to all post-secondary and training institutions in Ontario on August 30 and specifically outlines instructions from the Chief Medical Officer of Health directing organizations to implement a vaccine policy that meets specific requirements.

In particular, that organizations including private career colleges must “establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy” that requires all staff and campus attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a medical exemption. A subsection of the directive provides organizations with an opportunity to provide a third option — allowing unvaccinated individuals to attend their facilities provided they undergo Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT).

For the GREAT/GRETI policy, all persons attending their facilities must be fully vaccinated as of October 31, and those who do not must undergo RAT testing.

GREAT made their vaccination policy public on September 7. On September 9, the organization issued a statement, alerting the public to the option in the policy for unvaccinated individuals to attend their facilities.

And on October 5, the organization’s Chairman, Elijah Williams, released another statement, looking to address misinformation being distributed on social media.

“GRETI respects the right of all members of our community to engage in peaceful discourse about our services and policies,” says the statement. “The Policy is necessary to safeguard the continued well-being of our community as the COVID case counts at Six Nations continue to rise.”

“The Policy does not mandate vaccination,” says the statement. “GRETI is not forcing anyone to get vaccinated. The Policy provides an alternative to vaccination in the form of Rapid Antigen Testing. The Policy is in harmony with the freedom of personnel and clients and respects their choice whether to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or not. GRETI is confident that this is a reasonable alternative for those who choose not to be vaccinated.”

The statement ends with a promise to re-evaluate the policy throughout the pandemic.

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