COVID-19: London, Ont., councillors review vaccine policy for city staff

The policy applies to almost everyone under the city’s employ, either directly or indirectly as staff of contractors, or as consultants. The Canadian Press

London, Ont., has joined a growing list of Canadian cities that have adopted COVID-19 vaccine policies for municipal staff.

On Tuesday, city council voted to receive the policy in a meeting that saw little opposition to move, apart from Ward 1 Coun. Michael van Holst.

While the decision to implement the policy rests with the City of London corporation, councillors, who are not affected by the policy, were allowed to review and discuss the plan.

The majority of the discussion was held in a private portion of Tuesday’s meeting, as was requested by van Holst so that he could pose legal questions.

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Council dealt with a strengthened version of the policy, which arrived after the Ontario government announced last month that vaccine policies would be mandated for high-risk settings.

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The revised policy was also inspired by guidance from the Middlesex-London Health Unit advising businesses to implement COVID-19 vaccination policies.

The policy requires all City of London employees to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 by Sept. 29. Anyone who is not will have to provide written proof of a medical or Ontario Human Rights Code reason that sets out the person cannot be vaccinated.

Employees are allowed to have only received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 29, but must be able to provide proof of full vaccination by Nov. 1.

The policy also applies to staff of contractors or consultants working on behalf of the city and inside city facilities, as well as volunteers, interns and students on placement

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Regardless of vaccination status, all employees will also have to complete daily screening for COVID-19 symptoms. Those who fail the screening will have to be tested for the virus and restricted from the workplace, until they can confirm with the city that they are allowed to return to work.

“A finding of non-compliance by an employee will result in immediate removal from active duties. The employee will be subject to corrective and/or disciplinary action that may include education or training; warning; suspension or leave without pay; or termination of employment,” said a document of the policy presented to city council on Tuesday.

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Employees on leave of absence and staff at Dearness Home won’t be impacted by the policy

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When council emerged from private discussion, van Holst put forth a motion to delay the policy, but failed to garner enough support to warrant a vote from fellow councillors.

The motion to receive the vaccine policy passed by a vote of 11-1, with van Holst serving as the only councillor to oppose the motion.

Councillors Mo Salih, Paul Van Meerbergen and Arielle Kayabaga, who represent wards 3, 10 and 13, respectively, were absent from Tuesday’s vote.

A similar vaccine policy for councillors is set to be presented when council’s corporate services committee meets on Sept. 20.

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Myth or Fact: Misconceptions about workplace vaccine

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