Antonella Artuso

September 7, 2021

-Toronto Sun


The mayor of a Southwestern Ontario township is speaking out strongly against “discriminatory” COVID-19 vaccine passports.

Township of Warwick Mayor Jackie Rombouts posted online that she will refuse the passport when it is available and will not frequent any business or organization that discriminates against fellow Canadians who do not produce a passport.

Rombouts said she is not against vaccination and has volunteered at a mass clinic in her community — but said she will not disclose her own vaccine status to anyone other than a personal health-care provider.

“My position is people should not be forced to do anything that is against their will, particularly by a government,” Rombouts told the Toronto Sun on Tuesday. “I don’t remember a time in history when government decided to make the rules for the betterment of society — that overstepped their bounds — that turned out good in the long run.”

After opposing them, Premier Doug Ford announced last week a vaccine passport system will be implemented across the province starting Sept. 22.

The province will make the passport necessary for citizens without vaccine exemptions to access indoor restaurant dining, gyms, theatres and similar settings.

Rombouts, a farmer in Warwick, a municipality of fewer than 4,000 people located between London and Sarnia, said she decided to go public with her concerns because she is hearing from people who are being denied the right to participate in a sport or go to work due to their vaccination status.

A nurse told Rombouts she was told she would be put on unpaid leave if she didn’t get vaccinated — this at a time when there is a shortage of nurses.

Students are being told they can’t go to college or university or play hockey if they don’t want to be vaccinated, she noted.

As the mother of four children, Rombouts said she used to need to sign school permission forms to allow them to walk up town, but parental approval isn’t required for COVID-19 vaccines.

She said people’s concerns about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines — including how quickly they were rolled out — should be respected.

“I don’t understand people who have been vaccinated and have protected themselves — if the vaccine works, they’ve protected themselves — so why are they worried about people who have chosen not to vaccinate?” Rombouts said. “I don’t want to be the spokesperson for this. I really don’t. I just want to serve my community as best I can.

“I’m just tired of being bullied and I’m tired of watching my constituents be bullied.”

Public health officials around the world have declared that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, particularly against serious illness and death, and essential to battle a fourth wave of the pandemic.

Officials repeatedly point out the vast majority of COVID-19 patients currently in hospital, especially in intensive care, are unvaccinated.

“I understand that there are people who are very afraid out there (of a fourth wave) and I think we need to be compassionate to those people,” Rombouts said. “But they have to understand that there are people on the other side who are very afraid as well.

“And the dictatorship that is being put on those people is making them more afraid. It’s not helping the situation.”