Independent MPP Roman Baber calls on Premier Doug Ford to protect workers’ jobs and privacy on COVID-19 vaccination status –

Premier Doug Ford turfed MPP Roman Baber from the Progressive Conservative caucus for opposing the government’s COVID-19 lockdown measures in January.

By Robert BenzieQueen’s Park Bureau Chief

Tue., Sept. 14, 20212 min. read

A maverick Toronto MPP is urging Premier Doug Ford to protect the jobs of Ontarians who refuse to get vaccinated or who decline to share their vaccination status with their boss.

Independent MPP Roman Baber (York Centre) told reporters Tuesday at Queen’s Park that his proposed “Jobs and Jabs Act” would prevent employers from firing or suspending workers because they have not had their COVID-19 shot.

Baber, who is himself fully vaccinated, said his private member’s bill would also guarantee the privacy of employees who won’t disclose to their employer whether they have been vaccinated.

“The goal is to protect jobs and preserve livelihoods,” said the MPP, who was defenestrated from the Progressive Conservative caucus in January for publicly questioning the wisdom of pandemic lockdowns and warning of the toll on Ontarians’ mental health.

“Doug Ford’s … slogan was ‘open for business, open for jobs,’” added the former Tory, stressing he is “pro-choice” when it comes to people’s personal health-care decisions.

“After locking down Ontario for almost 18 months, Doug Ford is ready to leave countless Ontarians jobless and destitute for exercising what he referred to as their choice,” said Baber, who is a lawyer.

“Employers should be encouraged to accommodate employees or use rapid tests when no accommodation is possible. But under no circumstances, should any Ontarian lose their job because of a personal health choice.”

While the legislature has prorogued and will not resume until Oct. 4, he would like the house recalled before Ontario’s mandatory proof-of-vaccine program takes effect Sept. 22.

Last month, Baber derided Ford as “a weak tyrant” for ejecting veteran MPP Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Leamington) from the Tory caucus for refusing to get vaccinated.

The premier, who has pushed vaccine mandates for health-care workers, educators, and public servants, made no apologies for his hardline stance.

“Over the past year, I have repeatedly stood in front of Ontarians and urged them to get vaccinated as soon as they become eligible,” Ford said on Aug. 19.

“The people of this province have responded to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 by making sacrifices to keep our families, our communities, ourselves and others safe,” he said, adding MPPs must “lead by example and … must rightfully be held to a higher standard.”

“It is my expectation that every PC caucus member and candidate not only support the role vaccines play in the fight against COVID-19, but also be vaccinated to protect themselves and the people in their community.

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie