City of London COVID-19 vaccine policy to come into full force October 1

London City Hall as seen June 14, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL File

Civic administration with the City of London has unveiled its Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Administrative Policy, which will begin Sept. 15, though portions of the policy won’t come into effect until Oct. 1.

City councillors are not impacted, as they are not technically city employees, though work is underway to implement a similar policy for elected officials.

The policy will apply to almost everyone employed by the City of London, directly or indirectly as staff of contractors or as consultants, as well as volunteers, interns and students on placement. City councillors are not impacted. It will require those who are not fully vaccinated to undertake regular testing, among other measures.

Read more: Mandatory vaccine policy approved for City of Hamilton employees

The policy also does not apply to those at Dearness Home as they are governed by policies and procedures on a provincial level. As well, employees on a leave of absence are not impacted.

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As for city councillors, Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan is planning to introduce a motion at Monday’s Corporate Services Committee meeting to have city staff develop a similar policy for members of council to vote on.

Councillors Phil Squire and Shawn Lewis both expressed support of the motion to Global News. Both also expect that the motion will be met with little resistance.

“If you’re going to say, ‘well, employees have to meet an obligation,’ then I think elected officials really should meet the same obligations,” said Squire.

“I would be surprised if there’s resounding opposition to us being applied by the same policy. I think that’s only fair. Although we’re not (city) employees, we’re in City Hall, we interact with the public and there’s an expectation from the public that we be safe.”

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

Councillor Shawn Lewis not only expressed support for Morgan’s motion, but said he’d like to see a province-wide approach for all public sector workers.

“Whether it’s provincial employees or municipal employees, whether it’s for school board or police or transit service operators,” Lewis told Global News.

“I think when it comes to the public service, we really need a uniform policy across the province. And I hope that in taking this step locally at City Hall, it will send a message to the province that we do need their support to move this forward.”

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Under the Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Administrative Policy for those covered under civic administration, those impacted will have to:

  • provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or
  • provide a written attestation of the medical reason or Ontario Human Rights Code reason for not being fully vaccinated as well as undertake regular testing, or
  • complete an educational session and undertake regular testing.

If someone is partially vaccinated, they will also have to submit to regular testing until 14 days after their second dose. The report states that a third party will be conducting the rapid testing at a cost of $2,000 to $3,000 per week.

Everyone impacted will be asked to submit their proof of vaccination or attestation of reason for not being fully vaccinated starting Sept. 15. Testing and educational sessions will get underway October 1.

Read more: COVID-19: Fanshawe College to require those on campus be fully vaccinated

The policy will remain in place “for an undefined period of time, as long as the risks and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are present,” the report reads.

“It will be reviewed on a regular basis and amended if required as information and data regarding COVID-19 evolves and informed by the advice of Public Health.”

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The policy, the report states, is in response to “evolving data around the transmissibility of the Delta variant” and “increasing COVID-19 cases both locally and provincially,” and the fact that “vaccination, in combination with health and safety precautions, have been identified by public health as the single most effective means” of reducing COVID-19 transmission.

It also notes that the city has an obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of its workers” and that all information collected for the policy will be “treated in compliance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

Read more: How should employers mandate COVID-19 vaccines? Persuade instead of punish, experts say

The report outlining the policy will be presented at Monday’s Corporate Services Committee meeting, where Morgan will introduce his motion.

Lewis and Squire both expect that the policy for councillors, if approved, would come into effect under a similar timeframe.

Locally, the seven-day case average for the London-Middlesex region was 29 as of Wednesday, up from 18 the previous seven days, and 7.1 one month ago.

Of all cases reported by the Middlesex-London Health Unit in the past six weeks, only 13.39 per cent of COVID-19 cases involved individuals who were fully vaccinated.

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— with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick.

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