Alberta’s largest and most northern county says it’s no longer working with local businesses that have a mandatory vaccination policy.

Mackenzie County says businesses that require employees, contractors or subcontractors to show proof of vaccination in workplaces or on work sites won’t be hired to provide goods or services. “Mackenzie County does not tolerate mandatory vaccination or any other discriminatory requirements for any employer,” said a document outlining the latest policy.

The county’s council approved the policy on Feb. 16.

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A spokesman for the county said in a letter that vaccine mandates violate personal rights and freedoms and won’t be tolerated. “Mackenzie County is appalled by the response to COVID-19 that many governments and corporations have evoked,” said Byron Peters, the county’s interim chief administrative officer. “Corporate use of coercion and intimidation towards employees to dictate personal health choices are inappropriate and we will not work with companies that tolerate or promote such behaviour.”

According to provincial data, the county has the lowest vaccination rate in Alberta. Just over 38 per cent of its roughly 9,500 residents have had their first coronavirus shot and just over 32 per cent have had a second.

In the letter, Peters said the county will be honouring existing contracts it has with businesses, including ones that have a vaccine mandate, for the time being. “However, your employees will not be permitted to enter Mackenzie County premises or job sites.”

Peters said all companies with a vaccination policy that are employed by the county need to work remotely or make arrangements to hire a subcontractor that doesn’t have a similar policy.

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