City of Toronto and TTC workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 30
Published Thursday, August 19, 2021 10:21AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 19, 2021 11:39AM EDT
COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for all City of Toronto employees and TTC workers in the next two months as cases continue to rise during the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Mayor John Tory announced Thursday morning that all city staff will be required to be fully vaccinated against the disease by Oct. 30.
“This situation with the Delta variant continues to be one that we must take seriously. There is simply too much at stake not to take it as seriously as we possibly can,” he said.
All members of the Toronto Public Service will be required to provide proof of vaccination status by Sept. 13.
Staff who have not been vaccinated or who do not disclose their vaccination status by then will be required to attend mandatory education about the benefits of vaccination.
These unvaccinated individuals will then need to provide proof of having received their first dose by Sept. 30.
All city staff will then have until Oct. 30 to get fully vaccinated with two COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Tory said he believes the vast majority of city workers are already fully vaccinated.
“This is about protecting our entire broader workforce of approximately 37,660 employees, and ensuring that the city government is best prepared to weather a fourth wave and the Delta variant, to protect the public that we deal with every day, and in the process to protect the delivery of vital public services,” Tory said.
Tory did not say what consequences workers could face if they are not fully vaccinated by the deadline but said the city “is not taking any options off the table.”
He said the city will comply with its human rights obligations and accommodate employees with medical exemptions and those who are legally entitled to refuse the vaccine.
“But this policy will make it clear that we will not let people who don't have a bonafide medical or human rights reason not to get vaccinated to put themselves, to put their co-workers, to put their entire workplace, and in some cases members of the public at risk. We just cannot afford to have that,” Tory said.
CUPE 79 is a union that represents some city workers and President Dave Mitchell said he is satisfied that the city will accomodate human rights concerns.
"Some of our members have legitimate human rights grounds for remaining unvaccinated, and I am pleased the City has said it intends to accommodate those employees. As always, we will fulfill our duty to represent members with their human rights concerns in the workplace," Mitchell wrote in a statement to CP24.
Health officials have consistently stated that the vaccines greatly reduce an individual’s chance of contracting the virus or from getting severely ill.
Since May 1, individuals who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated represent 98.7 per cent of hospitalized COVID-19 cases in Toronto, according to Toronto Public Health.
COVID-19 VACCINES REQUIRED FOR ALL TTC EMPLOYEES
Shortly after Tory made his announcement, the TTC announced that it would be following suit and making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all employees.
As of Sept. 13, all TTC employees, contractors and students will be required to show proof of vaccination and undergo mandatory education if not vaccinated.
TTC spokesperson Stuart Green told CP24 that the TTC will follow the same guidelines as the city by requiring all staff to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 30.
“We have, you know, thousands of frontline employees who are operating our vehicles, who are in contact with hundreds of thousands of our customers every day, so our customers need to know that our employees are doing their part,” he said.
Green said he believes the majority of TTC workers are already fully vaccinated.
Details about the TTC’s vaccine policy are being finalized and will be released later this month.
ATU Local 113, the union representing TTC operators, said they are concerned about the vaccine policy.
“The TTC has clearly not finalized how any potential policy will work, or made clear what alternatives to vaccination (if any) will be offered. The TTC has also not made clear what consequences (if any) will flow from a member’s refusal to be vaccinated,” union president Carlos Santos said in a statement.
“Whatever the TTC ultimately determines, please know that Local 113 will aggressively oppose any action of the TTC which violates the rights of any member, whether it be unreasonable exercise of management’s rights, an express violation of the Collective Agreement, or a violation of the law, including the Human Rights Code.”
Meanwhile, the Toronto Police Service said it is working on its approach to vaccines.
“The Toronto Police Service has encouraged safe practices including vaccination for everyone including our members. The safety of our members and workplaces is of utmost importance. The Service is reviewing and we will announce our approach as soon as we can," a spokesperson wrote in a statement.
The new vaccination policies by the city and TTC come days after Ontario’s top doctor announced a mandatory vaccination policy for those working in high-risk settings.