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Kitchener, Waterloo announce mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies for staff, volunteers

On Monday, the Region of Waterloo announced a mandatory vaccine policy for all employees and volunteers, and several of the municipalities it encompasses have followed suit. Getty Images

On Monday, the Region of Waterloo announced a mandatory vaccine policy for all employees and volunteers, and several of the municipalities it encompasses have followed suit.

Late Monday afternoon, Wilmot Township announced a similar policy while the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo followed suit on Tuesday.

Read more: Waterloo Region enacts mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for staff, volunteers

“As the provider of important citizen-facing programs and services as well as being a large employer, the City of Kitchener will continue to focus on making policies that always ensure safe environments for both residents and staff,” Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said.

Similar to the region, the move by the cities will require all employees and volunteers to disclose their vaccination status by Sept. 27. If they choose not to disclose the information or are not vaccinated, they will be required to undergo an education seminar before also having to do rapid testing.

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“This pandemic has been difficult, and we have all faced many challenges,” Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky stated.

“Every day it seems new measures are needed to address the serious health implications associated with COVID-19. The mandatory vaccination policy is designed to protect the health of our employees and visitors to our city locations.”

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In Kitchener and Waterloo, the rules will apply to all employees, elected officials, volunteers and firefighters.

A spokesperson for the region says that elected officials are not paid employees so they are not bound to follow this rule.

In addition, Waterloo Regional Police are not considered regional staff, so they are not a part of the region’s plan. A police spokesperson was unable to provide any updates on the police’s future plans.

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A spokesperson for the City of Cambridge says that city is working on a finalizing its plan.

The City and Region of Waterloo say those who are unvaccinated or choose not to disclose their status will be required to be tested at least once a week.

A City of Kitchener spokesperson says that some of the details such as how often testing will be required are being worked out.

Read more: Ontario government mandating COVID-19 vaccine policies for high-risk settings

In addition, initially both cities will pay for the tests, although that could change down the road. The region says the tests are currently paid for by the federal government, but if that changes, it will reevaluate the situation.

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Both the cities and the region say new employees will need to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment.

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