COVID-19: City of London tightens vaccine policy for municipal staff

The City of London is strengthening its COVID-19 vaccination policy for municipal employees in the wake of the province’s decision to mandate the shot in higher-risk indoor settings.

The revised policy, which will be brought before city council on Tuesday, removes the option that had allowed employees to avoid the vaccine by undergoing regular testing and the completion of an educational session.

In a memo to councillors, City Manager Lynne Livingstone wrote that the policy had been revised following the province’s announcement last month, and “local guidance provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly encouraging workplaces to implement mandatory workplace COVID-19 vaccination policies with similar requirements.”

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The policy applies to almost everyone under the city’s employ, either directly or indirectly as staff of contractors, or as consultants. Volunteers, interns and students on placement also fall under the policy’s purview.

All who fall under the revised policy will have to provide, by Sept. 29, proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or a written attestation of a medical or Ontario Human Rights Code reason for not being immunized.

The policy, which will be reviewed regularly and amended as needed, states that employees not vaccinated or partially vaccinated will be required to have received their first dose by Sept. 29, and provide proof of full immunization by Nov. 1.

Regardless of their vaccination status, workers will be required to complete daily active screening for symptoms, and be tested if they fail the screening in order to perform work in city facilities and buildings. They will also need to provide verification enabling the city to confirm their ability to return to work.

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“Implementation of this policy will be in accordance with applicable Council and/or Corporation by-laws, policies and procedures, legislation, and collective agreement provisions,” the policy document reads.

“A finding of non-compliance by an employee will result in immediate removal from active duties. The employee will be subject to corrective and/or disciplinary action that may include education or training; warning; suspension or leave without pay; or termination of employment.”

Employees on leave of absence and staff at Dearness Home won’t be impacted by the policy, and late last month, Livingstone told councillors there were no plans to enact a policy for members of the public who attend city hall for in-person services.

Councillors are also not impacted as they are not technically city employees, however, an identical policy for city politicians is set to come before council this month.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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