All Toronto municipal employees – including those who work for the TTC – will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 30, the City announced Thursday.
Employees will be required to tell the city if they’ve been vaccinated by Sept 13. Those who choose not to do so or are not immunized by that date will be required to attend “mandatory education on the benefits of vaccination,” the City said.
“These unvaccinated individuals will then need to provide proof of first dose no later than September 30,” the City said.
The final deadline to be fully inoculated with a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine will be Oct. 30.
The City said it will comply with its human rights obligations and will respect those employees who are entitled to an accommodation under the law.
Mayor John Tory said the decision was made in consultation with the city’s labour unions and Toronto’s chief medical officer of health.
“I encourage all of our employees who aren’t vaccinated and who are eligible to be vaccinated, not to wait. Please do the right thing now and get vaccinated,” said Tory said. “It will help better protect you, your coworkers, and your loved ones.”
Dr. Eileen de Villa, the City’s medical officer of health, says the vaccines are safe and will help protect the public.
“Establishing a workplace vaccination policy is a key action that employers, including the City, can take to keep workers, their families and our city safe as we continue living with COVID-19,” she said.
TTC CEO Richard. J. Leary said the transit operator has already taken a number of steps to keep the public and its employees safe from COVID-19.
“This is one more thing we can do for ourselves and each other to limit the spread of COVID-19,” he said in a news release.
The statement said TTC employees, contractors and students will be required to be vaccinated by Sept. 13.
Both the city and TTC said employees would be exempt from the vaccine policy if they could provide proof of a medical reason for not being immunized.
David Mitchell, president of CUPE Local 79 representing Toronto’s indoor workers, said his union has worked throughout the pandemic to prioritize its members’ health and safety. He said their efforts include encouraging adherence to public health recommendations like getting vaccinated.
“Some of our members have legitimate human rights grounds for remaining unvaccinated, and I am pleased the City has said it intends to accommodate those employees,” Mitchell said in a statement.
The president of the union representing TTC workers, however, said he was “concerned” by the announcement, pointing at the lack of clarity about “alternatives to vaccination” for members or possible consequences for people who refuse the vaccine.
Carlos Santos said ATU Local 113 supports members’ rights to make their own decisions about their personal health.
“We oppose mandatory vaccination of Local 113 members,” Santos said in a statement, adding that the union would “aggressively oppose” actions by the TTC that violate members’ rights or their collective agreement.
The Toronto Region Board of Trade applauded the city’s decision but called on all levels of government to work together to create a COVID Safe Pass, a tool it said would show if someone has been vaccinated or recently tested negative for COVID-19.
“Every day that the number of local cases ticks up, we lose ground on this issue,” said Jan De Silva, president and CEO of the board of trade. “We cannot wait until the situation escalates further before we act.”
A spokesperson for Toronto Police said the “service is reviewing our approach to vaccination and we plan to announce our approach as soon as we’re able.”
Files from The Canadian Press was used in this report.