Toronto

TTC extends deadline for staff to disclose COVID-19 vaccination status

TTC employees have been given an extra 10 days to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status after their deadline was extended.

Employees now have until Sept. 30 to report their status

TTC staff have been given until Sept. 30 to disclose their vaccination status. (John Sandeman/CBC)

TTC employees have been given an extra 10 days to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status after their deadline was extended.

Mayor John Tory announced in August that City of Toronto employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 30  and would need to disclose their vaccination status by Sept. 13.

Despite transit workers and Toronto police being exempt from the regulations, TTC chief executive Richard Leary released a statement immediately after Tory's announcement saying all staff and contractors would be required to disclose their vaccine status. 

That deadline was initially set at Sept. 20 and has now been revised to Sept. 30.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Tory said it was "understandable that there's a little bit of extra time needed" for the TTC to hear from all of their employees.

He said, speaking from the city's experience of gathering vaccination disclosures, that those working in "dispersed settings" across the city with little Internet or email access had proved harder to reach.

"And if you think about the work being done by transit operators and others in the transit system, they work in that similar kind of way," Tory said.

Mayor John Tory says it was 'understandable' that the TTC had offered their staff more time to disclose their vaccination status. (CBC)

The city last week extended its own deadline for its employees to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status from Sept. 13 to Friday, Sept. 17.

While there was "still a little bit of work to do in that regard," Tory said, the "vast majority" of the city's 37,000 employees had disclosed their vaccination status, many of whom were double vaccinated. 

Tory said the vaccine disclosure demand was "a very fair request and it's made in extraordinary circumstances," and he said he was "optimistic" more TTC employees would report theirs in the coming weeks.

The Toronto Police Service had also instructed all of its members — uniform and civilian — to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status by Sept. 13. 

Passport enforcement to be 'complaint-based'

When asked about vaccine passports, which are due to come into force in Ontario on Wednesday, Tory said he expected the system to "happen smoothly with very few incidents."

"This is the best defence we have against any further lockdowns. This is the best defence we have to keep people in school, keep people working. It's the best defence we have against this terrible health menace."

He said he hopes people will be asked and will show proof of vaccines "without any interference."

Tory deferred to Matthew Pegg, Toronto's fire chief and head of emergency management, to answer questions about enforcement of the new regulations. Pegg said it would be "largely complaint-based" and would be dealt with by the city's contingent of municipal law enforcement officers, Toronto Public Health and Toronto police.

He said "every single case will continue to be evaluated on its merits."

"These are another set of challenging regulations for us to enforce," Pegg said.

"Really, our success on this moving forward is going to be based and dependent upon our collective cooperation. I have every reason to believe that our city will do just that," he said.

Tory agreed, saying enforcement would depend largely on the "honour system." 

"We don't have anywhere near enough enforcement people to be at every store, every restaurant, every venue. Nor would that be anything that I think people would really welcome."

Tory was speaking at the announcement of a new vaccination clinic located at Woodbine Mall. The new clinic is located at 500 Rexdale Blvd. in Etobicoke and replaces the clinic operations at The Hangar, which closed on Saturday.

The Woodbine Mall clinic will be open from Tuesday to Saturday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., for walk-in appointments for first or second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for anyone born in 2009 or earlier at the time of vaccination. The clinic will also offer meningitis, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations for students in Grades 7 to 12.

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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