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City of Toronto drops COVID vaccine mandate, staff to be offered reinstatement

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WATCH ABOVE: Toronto’s Board of Health delayed its upcoming budget proposal over concerns many programs, neglected during Toronto’s emergency pandemic response, will remain unfunded. Matthew Bingley reports. – Nov 8, 2022

The City of Toronto is dropping its COVID-19 vaccine mandate and intends to offer unionized unvaccinated employees or those who didn’t disclose their vaccination status reinstatement.

A memo written by interim city manager Tracey Cook and sent to managers says as of Dec. 1, “the City’s COVID-19 vaccination policy will be updated to reflect that mandatory vaccination is no longer required for City staff, volunteers and contractors.”

“The City said that it would continually review this policy, led by science and evidence,” Cook wrote.

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“With more than 90 per cent of the public and 99 per cent of City staff now with at least two doses of vaccine, the science and public health guidance no longer supports the need for a mandatory vaccine policy.”

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The news was later shared directly with City employees and confirmed publicly in the form of a news release.

Cook said the City still encourages everyone to get vaccinated against COVID, including a Fall booster shot.

Based on arbitration and negotiations with the unions, the around 350 unionized employees who either aren’t vaccinated or didn’t disclose their vaccination status “will be offered reinstatement into an unpaid leave,” Cook said.

And those staff who are on unpaid leave will then be able to return to the workplace beginning Dec. 1.

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Cook said the City’s “People and Equity” staff will be working with different divisions to review reinstatements on a case-by-case basis to make sure returns to the workplace “are aligned with operational needs.”

The People and Equity team will also be conducting a vacancy analysis and sharing that with the heads of the various divisions.

“Of course, there may be situations where vacancies are not available and alternative arrangements will need to be explored,” Cook said.

“While unvaccinated staff will be eligible to return December 1, the reintegration of staff into the workplace may not necessarily occur on that exact date.”

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Reinstating TTC employees ‘under consideration’

In a separate statement issued Tuesday after the City’s announcement, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) said it was aware of the City’s policy change.

“Although the TTC is an agency of the City, we have five different labour partners representing our employees,” the statement said.

“We are engaging with all of them as a courtesy to discuss the future of our mandatory vaccination policy going forward. Reinstating employees who were terminated for being non-compliant with the policy is under consideration.”

The TTC said it will make a formal announcement “in the near future.”

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