OTTAWA -- City of Ottawa employees have an additional two weeks to get fully vaccinated, as the city extends the deadline for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in the workforce.

In a memo to council, city manager Steve Kanellakos announced the deadline for compliance to the mandatory vaccination policy has been extended from Nov. 1 to Nov. 15.

"While significant progress has been made on the implementation of this policy, with the majority of City staff reporting they are fully vaccinated, extending the deadline by two weeks will allow for follow-up with the employees who have not yet reported their status and ensure as many employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 as possible," said Kanellakos.

Kanellakos adds the "one-time" extension to the deadline will allow for additional on-site technical support for staff to upload their vaccination status and provide employees who recently received their second dose additional time to achieve the two-week waiting period to be fully vaccinated.

As of Thursday, 91.4 per cent of active city employees are fully vaccinated.  The city of Ottawa's current vaccination rate for residents 12 and older is 86 per cent.

Earlier this month, the Amalgamated Transit Union warned 400 to 500 OC Transpo drivers could face suspension for not being fully vaccinated.

Kanellakos said council would receive an update before the Nov. 15 deadline on potential impacts to the workforce because of non-vaccinated workers.

"While the number of staff fully vaccinated is high, departments are actively developing plans to ensure business continuity and mitigate any potential impacts to service resulting from the enforcement of this policy," said the city manager.

On Sept. 3, Kanellakos announced the city would implement a mandatory vaccination policy, requiring all employees, contractors, students and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  The policy stated that employees must receive their first dose no later than Sept. 15, their second shot by Oct. 15 and be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1.

All city of Ottawa staff are required to disclose their vaccination status.  Kanellakos said the city was implementing a technology solution to support the collection and storage of proof of vaccination status.

Any employee who refuses to comply with the requirements of the mandatory vaccination policy will not be permitted in the workplace, and may be "subject to a variety of consequences" up to and including dismissal, according to Kanellakos.

OTTAWA POLICE VACCINATION POLICY

While all city of Ottawa employees must be fully vaccinated to attend work, unvaccinated employees can still work with the Ottawa Police Service.

Under the police vaccination policy released last Friday, all unvaccinated uniformed and civilian employees must undergo testing every three days and provide a negative COVID-19 result.

As of last week, 83 per cent of Ottawa Police Service employees were fully vaccinated.

Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa Police Services Board Chair Diane Deans have both said 100 per cent of police employees should be fully vaccinated.

"I don't support what the Ottawa police have done. They are an independent organization and have their own board, but I think we all have to practise what we preach," said Watson after Wednesday's council meeting.  "We are out there telling people to get double vaccinated, or they risk losing their jobs at the city of Ottawa. It’s not a frivolous thing that we are engaged in, it is a serious matter."