Toronto Drops Vaccine Mandate

The City of Toronto is dropping its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.  Unvaccinated employees are eligible for reinstatement to work on December 1st.

Mandatory vaccination is no longer required for City staff, volunteers, contractors or job applicants.  It is very important to note that Toronto made this decision after considering that more than 90 per cent of the public and 99 per cent of City staff have at least two doses of vaccine.  As a result, the City decided that, “…the science and public health guidance no longer supports the need for a mandatory vaccine policy.”

This is a significant development as the City of Toronto was one of the first employers to implement a vaccination policy.  Although it is associated with the municipality, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has not yet made a decision on whether to amend its policy and is presently in consultation with their unions on this issue.

Our Advice

Our advice remains the same and is very simple – maintain your Vaccination Policy, particularly as it applies to new hires, until at least the end of this year. The City of Toronto was an early adopter of vaccination policies and their early departure from this mandate is therefore a development worthy of careful consideration.  However, we note the extremely high vaccination rate within this employer (99%) and we believe it’s prudent to evaluate additional public health information before making a final recommendation on vaccination policy status.  Toronto’s decision is unique to their workforce composition and we believe it is premature to remove this safety net when we are on the doorstep of peak flu season. The direction of other employers is not clear at this point either.

As advised earlier in the year, you will need to continue to adjust your COVID safety precautions to take into account (sometimes opposing) provincial and local health unit advisories, however at this time, there is no need to make substantial changes and we strongly advise against dismantling the careful foundation that has been established with your existing policy framework (for those of you that have implemented policies). Avoid (over)reacting to ad hoc and conflicting policy changes. We recommend that you stay the course at this time. You are free to match the loosening of provincial regulations in your workplace. Or not. We expect additional workplaces will follow suit with the City of Toronto.  We also expect many employers will stay the course until at least the new year when we have better data and can better understand the impact of COVID strains in the months ahead.

Rest assured that we are carefully monitoring these changes to keep you informed and to provide as much clarity as possible. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us to discuss any of these developments in your workplace.

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