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Most big banks requiring Canadian, U.S. staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19

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Several of Canada’s largest banks will now be requiring some of their staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to internal memos and statements sent to Global News.

The news comes following the release of an internal memo sent to the Royal Bank of Canada’s employees on Thursday, marking it as the first of country’s major banks to officially introduce a vaccine mandate for its employees within Canada and the U.S.

On Friday, TD, Scotiabank, BMO and CIBC all confirmed plans to mandate vaccinations for their employees via internal memos.

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The deadlines on when staff should receive their vaccinations, as well as whether the mandate would apply to employees just working in Canada or abroad, differed among banks.

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RBC, which operates in over 30 other countries around the world, says the mandate may be introduced in places beyond Canada and the U.S. in the near future.

“Based on concerning developments related to the Delta variant and evolving government guidance, in regions where permissible, we will be requiring RBC employees to be fully vaccinated to work on our premises,” reads the memo from RBC’s chief human resources offer Helena Gottschling.

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RBC provided the memo to Global News after the Globe and Mail first reported on its contents Thursday. A spokesperson did not comment further, other than to confirm the memo was sent to employees Thursday evening.

Staff will be asked to confirm their vaccination status by Oct. 31 in order to return to RBC offices and branches. Those who are not yet vaccinated and are “able” to do so will be required to get their shots by the same date, according to the memo.

The move comes less than a week after the federal government announced a vaccine mandate for federal workers and domestic air and rail travellers by this fall. The announcement also called on federally-regulated industries — including banks — to follow suit, though Ottawa will not force those industries to comply.

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In a memo to TD employees, Chief Human Resources Officer Kenn Lalonde said that the bank would require full vaccination of an “approved COVID-19 vaccine” for all employees entering a TD workplace by Nov. 1. The bank would also be asking its staff to register their vaccination status with them by Sept. 30.

TD employees who are not fully vaccinated by the Nov. 1 date would have to undergo additional protocols, including completing a “learning module about the benefits of vaccination, mandatory COVID-19 rapid testing, and the wearing of a face covering at all times.”

A memo from CIBC’s head of people, culture and brand Sandy Sharman also confirmed mandatory vaccinations for employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 31, but added that the bank would be rolling out the measure based on employees’ “local circumstances.”

Barb Mason, Scotiabank’s chief human resources officer, also confirmed that the bank would be mandating vaccinations for all Canadian-based employees and contractors in the Fall.

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While there wasn’t a specific date set in the memo, Mason said that employees would soon have to answer a mandatory survey on whether they’ve been vaccinated.

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BMO’s Chief Human Resources Officer Mona Malone said that all eligible North American employees and contractors would now be required to get their shots by a target date of Oct. 31.

Those who remain unvaccinated will be required to complete twice-a-week COVID-19 testing and comply with alternative health and safety measures to enter a BMO location,” read the memo. Malone also added that North American-based employees would also have to complete a vaccination status survey as well.

An Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News released Thursday found a strong majority of Canadians — at least 80 per cent — supported mandatory vaccinations for employees in certain industries, including healthcare workers and teachers.

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According to Gottschling, RBC’s vaccine mandate will be applied to other regions the bank operates “where applicable,” while noting it may not be possible in all 36 countries where the bank is located.

“We recognize there are global differences in vaccine deployment efforts and access, and that some employees are not able to get the vaccine,” the memo reads. “We will be working through our approach with these situations in mind.”

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