Poll workers say Elections Canada put them at risk of contracting COVID-19

Sep 22 2021, 4:26 pm

A polling station officer says she was scared of contracting COVID-19 on Monday because Elections Canada didn’t require workers to be fully vaccinated or allow them to request proof of a medical exemption from maskless voters.

Mary Rose Amaral says she wanted to participate in democracy by working at a Toronto voting station, despite being immunocompromised with asthma, and she expected Elections Canada to take more precautions to protect its employees.

She says some voters did not wear masks and claimed to have a medical exemption, but workers were not allowed to ask for proof to confirm they actually had one.

Arjang Fakhraie says he worked from 8:30 am to midnight at a polling station in the Greater Toronto Area where he screened voters for COVID-19 symptoms and helped in organizing the long lineups outside the location.

He says the two metre-distance rule was effectively forgotten as voters and election workers were much closer to each other.

An Elections Canada spokesman says the agency encouraged voters to wear a mask, and required them where they were required by the province, territory or region or by the landlord of the polling station.

Matthew McKenna says voters who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons were not mandated to wear one and were not asked for a proof except for in polling stations in Alberta schools where proof of exemption is required by the school boards.

He says requiring all election workers to be vaccinated would have decreased the number of people who apply for jobs with the agency and that would have jeopardized the operation of the election.

He says Elections Canada aimed to recruit 215,000 workers on election day, and it was able to meet approximately 93 percent of that target.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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