Toronto

Tory announces city employees must be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 30

Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced that City of Toronto employees must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 30.

Delta variant threatens 'tremendous progress' in fighting pandemic, John Tory says

Toronto Mayor John Tory says all City of Toronto employees must disclose their vaccination status by Sept. 13. (CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced that City of Toronto employees must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 30.

During a press conference on Thursday morning, Tory said Toronto had made "tremendous progress fighting the pandemic," but the delta variant "seriously threatens that progress."

While he said he had "no doubt that the vast majority" of city employees were already vaccinated, he said a vaccination policy was necessary.

Employees would now be required to disclose their vaccination status by Sept. 13.

Unvaccinated employees will receive education sessions on the "benefits of getting vaccinated," Tory said.

They will then need to provide proof of their first dose of the vaccine by Sept. 30. All employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 30, he said.

The city is not ruling out mandating regular COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees before the Oct. 30 deadline, but this was "not a priority," Tory said.

Toronto police exempt from current policy

However, there will be exemptions to the new regulations — it currently does not apply to TTC and Toronto police employees.

Tory said this was a "matter of proper, respectful governance."

"We've been in touch with those agencies and the heads of those agencies and indicated our strong wish and our strong desire to see them have a policy that follows through with that employed by the City of Toronto.

"But they have their own governance structure and separate boards and we want to be respectful of that in making sure that decisions are taken in the way they normally would be by those organizations," Tory said.

The mayor said said he was hopeful police and the TTC would "follow suit." 

Immediately following the press conference, TTC chief executive Richard Leary released a statement saying that as of Sept. 13, the company would be requiring all employees, students and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

It is unclear if the TTC will follow the same timeline and adopt the city's Oct. 30 deadline. 

Leary said the policy and other operational details were "currently being finalized and will be available by the end of August."

TTC union 'aggressively opposes' the move

However, the union that represents TTC operators has criticized the vaccination policy and announcement.

Carlos Santos, president of the  Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, said he was "very concerned" about the new requirements for its members.

"Local 113 supports the right of every member of Local 113 to make their own informed decisions about their personal health matters, including vaccination. We oppose mandatory vaccination of Local 113 members," Santos said. 

The union represents nearly 12,000 workers.

Santos was particularly unhappy that the TTC's announcement made their announcement before a vaccination policy had been developed.

"The TTC has clearly not finalized how any potential policy will work, or made clear what alternatives to vaccination (if any) will be offered.," he said."The TTC has also not made clear what consequences (if any) will flow from a member's refusal to be vaccinated."

He said he would "aggressively oppose" any action by the TTC which would violate the rights of its members, "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".

Toronto police say they do not currently have a vaccination policy in place, but an announcement on this would be made soon.

"The safety of our members and workplaces is of utmost importance. The service is reviewing our approach to vaccination and we will plan to announce our approach as soon as we can," according to a statement from corporate communications director Allison MacNeil Sparkes.

Tory said he expects full compliance with the policy from city employees, but would not specify any consequences for an employee who refused to get vaccinated by the deadline.

"There is a broader, collective responsibility here," he said.

"Our principal objective is to serve the public. We can only do that if we have a safe, healthy workplace."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashleigh Stewart is an investigative journalist from New Zealand now living in Toronto, via stints in Dubai, Tokyo and Jakarta. She's particularly interested in stories about mental health, inequality and underrepresented communities. Outside of work, you'll find her on a ski field or a mountain trail. Follow her on Twitter @ash_stewart_ or email her on ashleigh.stewart@cbc.ca.

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