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City of Ottawa extends employee COVID-19 vaccination deadline by 2 weeks

City of Ottawa employees will have until Nov. 15, 2021 to get double vaccinated against COVID-19 after the deadline was extended. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

City of Ottawa employees will now have until Nov. 15 to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as the deadline to get fully vaccinated was kicked back two weeks on Thursday.

City manager Steve Kanellakos announced the decision in a memo to council, in which he said the extra two weeks will give staff enough time to follow up with individuals who haven’t reported their vaccination status yet.

So far, 91.4 per cent of active city staff have reported they are fully vaccinated, Kanellakos said in his memo.

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That’s above the vaccination rates in the rest of the city, with OPH reporting as of Thursday that 86 per cent of the eligible population had received both doses while 90 per cent had at least an initial shot.

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Calling it a “one-time deadline extension,” Kanellakos said the move gives employees who have only recently received a first shot time to get the second.

Read more: Police allege Ottawa paramedic gave fake COVID-19 vaccine certificate to keep job

Kanellakos said in his memo Thursday that city departments are putting plans in place to keep services running should a cohort of unvaccinated employees be placed on unpaid leave or fired, per the policy.

Mayor opposes police vaccine policy

Pressure is meanwhile mounting on the Ottawa Police Service to change its vaccination policy, which was implemented on Friday.

The OPS mandate requires employees to disclose their vaccination status but allows for unvaccinated members to use regular rapid testing as a workaround to getting the shot.

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The local police service estimates some 83 per cent of its entire workforce, including civilians and sworn officers, is fully vaccinated.

Read more: Toronto Police officers, staff not vaccinated by Nov. 30 to be placed on ‘indefinite unpaid absence’

Mayor Jim Watson said Wednesday that he doesn’t support the policy, and called on the OPS board chair and Chief Peter Sloly to revisit the plan.

“Police come in contact with dozens of people every single day. And for the life of me, I can’t understand why they would not follow the same rules that other public servants in Ottawa and, quite frankly, throughout the country are following,” he told reporters after city council on Wednesday.

“If you’re getting a public cheque, you’ve gotta get double vaccinated,” he said.

OPSB chair Diane Deans, as well as OPH board chair Keith Egli, have both said publicly that they think the policy should be revised. Deans said in a tweet Wednesday that the decision lies in Sloly’s hands.

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Egli also clarified Wednesday after council that OPH “did not recommend this path forward for the police service.”

Dr. Brent Moloughney, Ottawa’s associate medical officer of health, said in the same press conference that OPH had shared the reasoning behind its own vaccination policy, but added that, “ultimately, it’s up to each employer to say what makes the most sense for them.”

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