City of Toronto employees have less than a month to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or else they will be suspended without pay and ultimately fired if they don’t comply with the city’s mandatory vaccination policy.

The city released an update to its policy on Wednesday and said staff will need to show proof of being fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 in order to avoid suspension.

During the suspension, staff may return to work if they provide proof of having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

However, if they fail to get fully vaccinated after the unpaid suspension, on Dec. 13, their employment will be terminated for not adhering to the city’s vaccination policy.

“We know vaccinations are the best way to protect ourselves and our community against the continued threat of COVID-19. I look forward to more staff joining their colleagues in becoming fully vaccinated in the coming weeks so that all of our workplaces are as safe as possible during the ongoing fourth wave and as our city reopens,” Mayor John Tory said in a press release.

Employees who are unable to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine due to medical exceptions or other approved exemptions will be entitled to accommodation.

The city said it will continue its focus on educating staff about the benefits of getting vaccinated and will continue to offer online training modules, along with new targeted education sessions and vaccination clinics at select workplaces with lower vaccination rates.

To allow staff to take advantage of these resources, staff who receive their first dose and provide proof by Oct. 15 will be given until Nov. 15 to get their second dose.

Toronto released its vaccination policy in late August to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

City staff were required to disclose their vaccination status by Sept. 17 and be partially vaccinated by Sept. 30.

As of today, 95 per cent of the city’s active staff submitted their vaccination disclosure form.

So far, 89 per cent, or 26,138 members, of Toronto workers who disclosed their vaccination status are fully vaccinated, five per cent are partially vaccinated and two per cent chose not to disclose their vaccination status.

“We are incredibly encouraged by the numbers but we do want the numbers to go up of course so over the next couple of weeks, next week especially, we are going to have vaccination clinics at certain work locations to encourage people who are yet to get both doses to get those vaccines,” city spokesperson Brad Ross told CP24 on Wednesday afternoon. “This is about protecting themselves and their community and their coworkers. As an employer, we have an obligation to protect workers through the Occupational Health and Safety Act, for example.”

The city said it has started considering plans to mitigate any service or staffing impacts from suspensions and terminations due to the vaccination policy.