Nearly 500 unvaccinated workers lose jobs in Toronto

City's vaccine mandate came into force Jan. 2

Nearly 500 unvaccinated workers lose jobs in Toronto
A city of Toronto worker skating at Toronto city hall’s Nathan Phillips Square on Dec. 13, 2021.

Nearly 500 employees at the City of Toronto have lost their jobs because of the municipality’s vaccine mandate.

As of midnight on Jan. 2, staff were expected to comply with the vaccination policy, and while 98.6 per cent of the workforce complied — 32,478 workers — 461 failed to meet the requirement.

The policy was first introduced in August 2021 and has been gradually implemented over the last five months. The Jan. 2 deadline was actually extended to provide employees additional time to become educated and obtain a vaccine, as well as to allow greater time between first and second doses.

But as of the deadline, a total of 461 employees had either not received any doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or had not reported their vaccination status. As a result, their employment with the City of Toronto was terminated after several weeks of unpaid leave.

Additionally, there are 37 employees on temporary leave awaiting a decision on their accommodation requests under human rights grounds, and 248 employees who have reported receiving one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But if those workers still have not had two doses, their employment could be terminated that day, says the City.

The municipality says it is meeting its obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable to protect employees from workplace hazards, including COVID-19.

Since the introduction of the vaccination policy, the City has offered various supports to staff including education opportunities, paid time off to get vaccinated and workplace vaccination clinics.

In mid-December, the City of Toronto revised its previously announced plans to get employees back to the office.

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