Fewer than 1,300 city employees face suspension over Toronto’s vaccine mandate deadline

Mayor John Tory says his administration is working to resolve concerns over city’s new policy, which was designed to boost vaccinators Fewer than 1,300 city employees face suspension over Toronto’s vaccine mandate deadline More…

Fewer than 1,300 city employees face suspension over Toronto's vaccine mandate deadline

Mayor John Tory says his administration is working to resolve concerns over city’s new policy, which was designed to boost vaccinators

Fewer than 1,300 city employees face suspension over Toronto’s vaccine mandate deadline

More than 1,300 city employees will face suspension or termination for failing to comply with Toronto’s vaccination deadline, but officials hope those on the hook can still find work.

The policy, introduced in July, requires all residents to be vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis B and polio by 15 September or face suspension of up to 10 days and possible termination of employment.

It applies to city workers, as well as their dependents, including young children.

John Tory, Toronto’s mayor, said his administration was working to resolve concerns over the city’s new policy, which was designed to boost public vaccination rates and was designed to eliminate communicable diseases.

Many former city employees may be able to secure new employment, or they may be able to find other local government work, he said.

“The team is … committed to working with employees and their unions in the days ahead to resolve all outstanding concerns,” Tory said on Friday.

But several unions said they’d only begun talking to their members Friday about the policy and have no information yet.

“The intention was that [employees] be informed well in advance of any criminal charges or termination action,” said Sarah Kates, the federal secretary of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“Many of our members were probably caught off guard by the announcement, because there was a 30-day notification period and then layoff provisions,” she said.

“We would be hoping that if a member is on notice, or does get termination that we would have a fair process.”

On the same day that the mayor spoke, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Society of Public Health Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics released a letter they wrote to the mayor urging him to delay the vaccine deadline.

“Vaccination is not a perfect or universal safety measure, but it is a critical tool and over-vaccination risks promoting vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles, and rubella,” the group wrote.

“We also appreciate that banning immunization through suspension is a great hardship for the public and private sector,” they added.

The letter described a “learning curve” for city employees trying to comply with the new rule.

“Many of them are looking for work that is consistent with their new responsibilities, and so we hope that this workforce has access to employment opportunities through other jurisdictions or other job listings,” said Kates.

Still, she said she was hopeful that city employees could find new employment.

“I think that’s going to take a lot of dialogue,” she said.

“The public sector employers need to work with their employees to find alternative employment opportunities for those employees.”

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