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City staff top overall Toronto vaccination rate with 88 per cent fully dosed employees
Sept. 27, 2021
Jennifer Pagliaro

While 88 per cent of municipal employees who report directly to the city are vaccinated -- close to the provincial standard and above the city’s overall vaccinated rate -- some divisions are lagging behind.

Nearly 200 parks, forestry and recreation employees have yet to be vaccinated, representing three per cent of those that reported their status as required by the city by deadline.

Another 378 had not yet reported their status. Of those that did report, 179 chose not to disclose their vaccination status. The division has 5,682 active employees -- 19 per cent of all employees requested to report their status.

Other divisional outliers included solid waste management, which employs garbage collectors and others. It had nearly 30 per cent of employees not report their status by deadline. Of those that did, 80 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Coun. Joe Cressy, who chairs the city’s board of health, says the overall trend is encouraging and expects the issue is largely reaching employees, not resistance to vaccination.

In a statement, a city spokesperson said they expected the number of disclosures to increase as staff return from vacation and leaves of absence, and that managers would be reaching out to employees with assistance.

“It’s just labour intensive at this point,” Cressy said about reaching those who have yet to report their status.

“There were no alarm bells that went off.”

He added: “Purely by the numbers, the vaccine rates are astounding across every division, across the city.”

He said the city would be in better shape if the general population’s rate was closer to the employee one. Public Health reported that 70.8 per cent of eligible Torontonians were fully vaccinated as of Thursday.

Another five per cent of city employees are partially vaccinated -- in line with the city’s overall numbers.

Last month, Mayor John Tory announced all employees would be required to disclose their vaccination status by Sept. 13 and provide proof vaccination has been initiated by Sept. 30.

The deadline was then extended to Sept. 17, the city said, “as some staff who do not have regular access to computers need additional time to complete the mandatory disclosure.”

Those who did not disclose their status and are not yet vaccinated will be required to undergo mandatory information sessions.

Tory said earlier this week that he was “pleased” the vast majority of employees had already chosen to get vaccinated.

City officials earlier said they would respect exemptions allowed under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

In a policy statement published Wednesday, the Ontario Human Rights Commission outlined what some of those conditions could be, including written medical reasons from a doctor or nurse.

They were also clear about what kind of requests would not be accommodated.

“Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary. At the same time, the OHRC’s position is that a person who chooses not to be vaccinated based on personal preference does not have the right to accommodation under the Code,” the statement said.

Outside agencies, like the TTC, have been responsible for their own employees and several, like the transit commission, have adopted similar vaccine mandates.

The TTC’s largest union, ATU Local 113, shot back on Sept. 7 telling workers not to divulge “private” medical statuses. The TTC has extended the deadline for their employees to disclose until Sept. 30.