Toronto announces vaccine requirement for city employees

Toronto announces vaccine requirement for city employees
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Toronto has announced all of its city staff must be vaccinated by October 30, with limited exceptions, according to Mayor John Tory. The vaccine mandate is set to impact some 35,000 plus people employed by the City of Toronto.

According to a news release, members of the Toronto Public Service will be required to disclose and provide proof of their vaccination status beginning on September 13. Those who either refuse to disclose their vaccine status or are unvaccinated, the release said, will be forced to attend “mandatory education on the benefits of vaccination.”

Unvaccinated individuals “will then need to provide proof of first dose no later than September 30.”

By October 30, the city says that all staff must be fully vaccinated, but added that it “will comply with its human rights obligations and accommodate employees who are legally entitled to accommodation.”

“This is about ensuring the City of Toronto — your municipal government funded with your tax dollars — is doing everything it can to encourage vaccination and protect our workers,” Mayor Tory said. “Our end goal is to encourage and persuade people to get vaccinated, if they haven’t already, so our city workplaces — which includes many public places — are as safe as possible for them and for the people we serve.”

“Please do the right thing now and get vaccinated. It will help better protect you, your coworkers, and your loved ones.”

Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa suggested that the evidence was clearly demonstrating that vaccines were protecting “people from becoming infected with COVID-19, acquiring more serious infections” and that the vaccine was saving lives.

Data collected in Israel and shared by Science Magazine, meanwhile, suggests that COVID cases and hospitalizations are surging in that country, despite 78 per cent of the aged 12+ population being fully vaccinated.

“There are so many breakthrough infections that they dominate and most of the hospitalized patients are actually vaccinated,” said Uri Shalit, a bioinformatician at the Israel Institute of Technology who spoke to Science Magazine.

“One of the big stories from Israel [is]: ‘Vaccines work, but not well enough,’” Shalit explained.

Information from August 15 showed that 514 Israelis were hospitalized with severe or critical instances of COVID-19, which marked a 31 per cent increase from only four days prior. Of those 514, 59 per cent were fully vaccinated, with 87 per cent of the vaccinated group being aged 60 or older.

Toronto's medical officer of health further outlined the necessity of the city's policy, saying that “getting fully vaccinated is the best way to reduce virus spread and our risk of COVID-19 and its more transmissible variants.”

“The evidence is clear that vaccines work to protect people from becoming infected with COVID-19, acquiring more serious infections and to save lives. Getting fully vaccinated is the best way to reduce virus spread and our risk of COVID-19 and its more transmissible variants. Establishing a workplace vaccination policy is a key action that employers, including the city, can take to keep workers, their families and our city safe as we continue living with COVID-19,” de Villa said.

It remains unclear as to what the City of Toronto's policy would mean should vaccine booster shots be rolled out, something that is anticipated in Canada and is expected to be made available to the general population in the United States beginning in September.

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