Vaccination deadline arrives for city of Ottawa employees, federal public servants
OTTAWA -- As of today, City of Ottawa staff, like transit workers, bylaw officers, and those working at city hall, must show proof they are fully vaccinated or risk consequences.
The city announced its COVID-19 vaccination policy in September, initially giving employees until Nov. 1 to be fully vaccinated. The deadline was extended by two weeks to allow for additional on-site technical support for staff to upload their vaccination status and provide employees who had just received their second doses more time to achieve the two-week waiting period to be fully vaccinated.
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 the city.
At least 91 per cent of city staff were fully vaccinated when the deadline extension was announced at the end of October.
It's not just city staff who are facing a deadline. Federal employees must also prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 today. The federal government said in early November that more than 95 per cent of its public servants were fully vaccinated and 98 per cent had at least one dose.
Those who miss the deadline could be placed on unpaid administrative leave.
Employees who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons can request accommodation.
Labour and employment lawyer Jon Pinkus says these vaccine mandates are being challenged but, in the case of federal workers, they may not have much of a choice.
"In the unionized context, what's really going to be an issue here is was there a third-party mandate? Was there a mandate that has force of law?" he said. "Federal workers, I think, may be out of luck. The federal government has required that and so, for those people, many of them are not going to have recourse."
Cases climbing in Ontario, but vaccine offers protection
This comes as Ontario is reporting an increase in cases, with more than 600 new infections reported on both Saturday and Sunday.
However, infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says it is important to note who is being affected, especially as we start to see numbers go up.
"If you look at hospitalization, especially for people in ICU, it's the people who are not protected by the vaccine," he said. "Yes, we are certainly seeing cases going up, but that's nowhere near as important as it was a year ago when nobody was vaccinated. Now, even if we have case numbers, the people who are getting the sickest are unvaccinated and they are the vast minority."
The most recent data from the Ontario government, reported on Saturday, showed 64 of 131 patients in Ontario ICUs were unvaccinated, while 13 were fully vaccinated. The remainder were partially vaccinated or their status was unknown.
More than 11.1 million Ontarians—or 75 per cent of the province's total population—are fully vaccinated.
In Ottawa, more than 805,000 residents, or 76 per cent of the population, are fully vaccinated.
Quebec public servants start returning to the office
Public servants in Quebec are starting a gradual return to their offices today.
The plan would see workers spending two days a week working on site and three days a week working from home. By Jan. 14, 2022, the province is aiming to have 50 per cent of its civil servants working in this model.