On November 1, city staff who are not fully vaccinated will be suspended without pay for six weeks
Employees in Toronto who do not get the plug in mid-December are being fired for cause, city officials announced today.
In a press release sent Wednesday afternoon, the city clarified what will happen to active employees who choose not to comply with its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.
As of the week of November 1, personnel who do not provide evidence of having received two doses of vaccine will be suspended for six weeks without pay. They can return to work sooner if they provide proof that they are receiving two shots.
When the six weeks expire on December 13, all employees who do not provide proof of full vaccination will be fired for any reason “as they will have chosen not to comply with the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy,” the city said.
In Ontario, an employee who is fired for any reason is not entitled to reasonable notice, statutory severance pay, or statutory resignation.
To date, 26,138 employees of the Toronto Public Service are fully vaccinated — or 89 percent of staff who revealed their COVID-19 vaccination status, the city said. Five percent of those who reported have been partially vaccinated, and two percent have chosen not to disclose their status.
City staff were required to declare their status by September 17 and be partially vaccinated by September 30 in accordance with the mandatory vaccination policy. In total, 95 percent of active staff have completed the vaccination form.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employees who present evidence of a first shot before October 15 are given until November 15 to receive their second shot. Before then, city officials say they are focusing on “training staff and encouraging them to be vaccinated as soon as possible.”
“The city will continue to comply with its human rights obligations, and employees who are unable to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine under a protected site described in the Ontario Human Rights Code are entitled to accommodation,” the press release said.
“Although the number of staff not fully vaccinated is low, divisions have already begun to consider plans to mitigate any service or staffing impact as a result of this policy enforcement.”
In response to the city’s announcement, the union representing the city’s indoor workers, CUPE 416, said on Wednesday it had filed a political complaint “alleging that the application of the policy is unreasonable and violating the provisions of the agreement.”
Employment lawyers have questioned whether a termination for refusing to follow a mandatory vaccination policy would comply with the “cause” threshold.
“It is important to note that Ontario is setting a high bar for termination of cause,” a blog post from hiring law firm Whitten & Lublin said in July. “As such, many employment attorneys are of the opinion that refusal to be vaccinated would probably not meet the threshold required for a termination of cause.”
The city originally announced the mandatory vaccination policy in August, but did not set a timeline for potential layoffs for non-compliant staff.
Across the city, more than 86 percent of eligible residents of Toronto 12 and above have had a shot of COVID-19 vaccine, and 81 percent are fully vaccinated.
October 7, 2021: This story was updated with a statement from CUPE 416.