Toronto police put 205 employees on unpaid leave as part of COVID-19 vaccination policy
117 officers, 88 civilian employees either not fully immunized or haven't disclosed status
The Toronto Police Service placed 117 officers on unpaid leave Tuesday as part of its COVID-19 vaccination policy.
The officers, and an additional 88 civilian employees, either aren't fully immunized against the novel coronavirus or have not yet disclosed their vaccination status, according to a Tuesday afternoon news release.
"Our objective remains ensuring the health and safety of our members, our workplaces, and the public we serve," Chief James Ramer said in the release.
"The service is prioritizing front-line and priority response to ensure public safety is not impacted during this period."
The service had previously announced its vaccine policy on Oct. 21, giving employees 40 days to get immunized and to declare their status. They were also warned that members placed on unpaid leave would not be eligible for promotions to supervisory or management positions.
Toronto Police Association 'disappointed'
The Toronto Police Association (TPA), which represents the service's more than 7,400 employees, said it is "disappointed" with the decision to put members "who have selflessly served the community during the entirety of the pandemic" on unpaid leave.
"The TPA will advocate for all of our membership, which includes those who have made the decision to not disclose, or not be vaccinated," the police union said in an emailed response to a request for comment from CBC News.
"For those members, we continue to advocate for alternative compliance options, including testing which has already been adopted by many other Police Services across Ontario and Canada."
Meanwhile, Mayor John Tory expressed his support for the police vaccination policy at a news conference on Tuesday morning.
"The police service [is] permitting us to carry on safely with all the work that we have to do for the public and to make sure people are safe on the job and make sure that they're safe in their interactions with the public," Tory said.
As a member of the police board, the mayor said he was involved in putting forward the policy and he said he was pleased that 98 per cent of Toronto Police Service's 7,415 employees have been fully immunized.
"I'm very gratified at the fact that they have become vaccinated in such large numbers and that we've had their cooperation within the context of the vaccine mandates," he said.
Police critic applauds vaccination policy
John Sewell, a former mayor of Toronto and coordinator of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, agreed the vaccine mandate is good for public safety.
"Police are dealing with all sorts of people all the time, and I don't think we want to be in a position ... with a police officer who has not been fully vaccinated," he told CBC News.
In fact, Sewell applauded the police service for drawing a strict line, pointing to past instances in which officers have been paid while on leave for wrongdoing, sometimes for years.
"It's unusual. The police service hardly ever gets very, very tough with what their people do. But I think this is entirely appropriate," Sewell said.
With files from Lorenda Reddekopp