Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

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Police who have not yet complied with the Toronto Police Service’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements are just days away from being put on unpaid leave.

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Although it is unclear how the harsh stance will affect staff, response times or overtime costs, officers who still do not comply with the requirements received a letter from their employer this week explaining that they have until Tuesday to reveal their status or lose their paycheck and benefits.

“At the date of this correspondence, Wellness Units records continue to show that you are still not complying with the mandatory vaccination requirements,” the letter sent to non-compliant officers said Tuesday. “Therefore, with effect from 30 November 2021, you have made yourself unable to perform your assigned duties and you will consequently be put on unpaid absence.”

The letter added members who “become compliant” can return to work “once your vaccination disclosure and evidence have been received and confirmed by the Wellness Unit.”

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Some front-line officers wonder why the service is so harsh on employees who put their health at risk and continued to work throughout the pandemic, when the service in neighboring jurisdictions allows officers to continue wearing PPE and be tested regularly at their own expense.

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The attitude seems particularly harsh given that officers charged with criminal acts routinely collect a payslip for years while suspended.

“Public safety is crucial, but it’s also important to treat your employees fairly,” said a Toronto officer, who asked not to be identified. Toronto Sun. . “There must be compromise.”

“I urge the Toronto Police Services Board to convene an emergency meeting and review this policy because the outcome is quite serious,” the officer said. “This is a decision that will drastically affect people’s lives – and that’s people with families.”

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Officers who remain unvaccinated or unwilling to disclose their status by Tuesday must hand in their uniforms and police-issued equipment, including their wallets and cap badges, according to the letter, which explains members of “unpaid absence” will still be subject to Police action.

The letter also says members’ medical benefits will be cut off unless they pay both employee and employer part of the cost. They will also have to keep paying both employee and employer contributions to their pension to avoid “broken service.”

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The Toronto Police Association – which represents about 7,500 service members – has so far been quiet about vaccination policies.

A spokesman for a PR agency hired by TPA said the association is waiting for the service to come up with an announcement on the final number of officers involved before commenting – possibly early next week.

Toronto Police said their goal is to ensure “members’ health and safety in all our workplaces, our members and the public.

“To date, 96% of members – uniforms and civilians – have revealed their status,” said police spokeswoman Connie Osborne. “Of these, 99% are at least partially vaccinated and 97% are fully vaccinated.

“Only 1% have recommended that they not be vaccinated and that is a mix of officers and civilians,” she said.

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Osborne, who confirmed that the service’s top command members have all been vaccinated, explained that the disclosure numbers are “fluid” as members continue to update their status daily.

“We do not want to speculate on potential operating pressure after November 30, but we have an extremely high vaccination rate and vaccination detection,” she said.

The Toronto Police Services Board did not immediately comment, but a spokesman confirmed that all board members are fully vaccinated.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office said John Tory – a TPSB member – supports the service’s policy, as well as supporting the city’s mandatory vaccination policy because it is “the right thing to do.”

“From the earliest days of COVID-19 vaccines, the mayor has supported frontline workers, including police officers, with priority access to vaccines to protect them, and he believes this policy will also protect them,” said Don Peat, Tory’s CEO. communication.

cdoucette@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @SunDoucette

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