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Discussions underway for City of London COVID-19 vaccine mandate: Mayor Holder

Mayor Ed Holder says he's actively reviewing the details of a vaccine mandate announced by the City of Toronto and adds that internal discussions on the matter are underway. Matthew Trevithick / Global News

The mayor of London, Ont., says discussions are underway for implementing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate among city employees after his Toronto counterpart announced a similar initiative.

On Thursday, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that effective Oct. 30, all city workers or employees will need to be fully vaccinated, with an exception for those who are “legally entitled to accommodation.”

During a media briefing featuring London officials the same day, Mayor Ed Holder said he’s “actively reviewing the details of this announcement and we’re consulting with our senior administrative staff and labour partners here at the city.”

Read more: City of Toronto will require all employees to have both COVID-19 vaccine shots by Oct. 30

“There’s a number of factors at play, along with legal complexities, but as I’ve mentioned, it’s under review,” Holder said.

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“It’s important. … I hope we get to that place.”

The mayor clarified during Thursday’s briefing that he does not have the power to implement a mandate, adding that he would need clear support from the city’s labour union before even making a statement similar to Tory’s.

“If you have unions who are coming out to you and saying, ‘We believe it is important that this be done,’ then basically what you get is you get some cover, if that’s the right word for it,” Holder said.

“I do know that those kinds of discussions are generally taking place, and that’s why you’ve seen some decisions made at senior levels of government about enforcement because it’s being pushed on by the union groups and I applaud that.”

Read more: Ontario Public Service employees will need COVID-19 vaccines or regular tests

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) says it will continue to work with its municipal partners, including those in Middlesex County, surrounding strategies to increase vaccination.

Associate medical officer of health Dr. Alex Summers says the MLHU supports mandatory vaccination policies, noting that the health unit has implemented its own mandate among its own staff.

“We are trying to provide that example,” Summers said.

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“We know that there are discussions and challenges as we navigate all of this and that those discussions are really important between employers and employees and partners as we make our way to maximizing vaccination coverage.”

Read more: Stay tuned for answers on COVID-19 vaccine policies: Budweiser Gardens

The announcement from the City of Toronto is the latest to have a potential impact on decisions in London.

Earlier this week, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced patrons and staff will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result in order to access any of its properties, including Scotiabank Arena, BMO Field and the OVO Athletic Centre.

Live Nation Canada announced that its ticket holders would be required to do the same before gaining entry to its concerts.

The general manager for Budweiser Gardens, Brian Ohl, said on Wednesday this has prompted the London arena and concert venue to look for answers on how it could implement a mandate, but added that a decision had not been made at that time.

“Certainly, the Live Nation announcement and the Maple Leaf Sports one have gotten everybody’s attention. … Both of those organizations are drivers of what goes on in the entertainment and sports world in Canada,” Ohl said on Wednesday.

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