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Toronto mandates COVID vaccines for all city employees

Toronto Mayor John Tory speaks at a podium with Canadian flags behind him
John Tory
In announcing his mandate Thursday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city "has a duty as an employer to ensure that our work environment is safe for all of our employees and the people we serve."

The city of Toronto has introduced a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for all city workers and was quickly followed by a similar policy from the Transit Commission, Public Library and others. This comes as cases continue to rise during the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Mayor John Tory said all city workers will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October.

“Between the day after Labor Day and September the 13th, all city staff will be required to provide proof of vaccination," Tory said. "Unvaccinated staff or those who prefer not to disclose their vaccination status will be required to attend education sessions on the benefits of vaccination."

Tory said he believes most of city’s more than 37,000 employees are already fully vaccinated. He also said Toronto will comply with human rights obligations and allow for workers with medical exemptions and anyone legally entitled to refuse the vaccine.

But, the mayor said the Delta variant, which is driving the new cases, must be taken seriously. He said there is just too much at stake.

“We’re here to look after each other. This is one of those times when it’s time to think not about me, as much as about us. And our collective responsibility to each other and the city that we love,” he said.

The police service has not yet come on board, saying it’s still reviewing its approach to vaccines.

Carlos Santos, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, said he's concerned there's a lack of clarity around alternatives to vaccination in the new mandate and what will happen to employees who refuse to get vaccinated. Santos said the union supports members' right to make their own personal health decisions.

In related news, Ontario Premier Doug Ford removed Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls from the governing Progressive Conservative Caucus, saying elected officials must lead by example when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Nicholls also won't be allowed to seek re-election as a Tory candidate because he failed to get vaccinated by a given deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Scarborough Centre MPP Christina Mitas also was given the deadline, but submitted a doctor's letter as proof of vaccination.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.