Ottawa police change course, announce mandatory vaccine policy

·2 min read
Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly announced the changes to the policy Friday afternoon.   (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)
Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly announced the changes to the policy Friday afternoon. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has announced all members will have to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 31, 2022, which is a change of course from an original decision announced last week.

The force said it initially did not implement such a policy due to a fear of losing frontline staff.

The first policy, announced last Friday, stated any member who had not declared they had two doses, and who lacked a legitimate exemption, would be required, as of Dec. 1, to provide a negative COVID-19 test every 72 hours.

Reaction flowed in this week including Ottawa's mayor and the chair of its board of health, who pressed the police force to reconsider its plan.

Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly and Chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board, Diane Deans, announced the change of policy Friday afternoon.

While Deans welcomed the policy change, she said the implementation deadline isn't optimal, but feels Sloly should be given some leeway.

"I would prefer it to be sooner, but you know, these are operational issues that the chief is ultimately responsible for and he carries on his shoulder, the weight of ensuring adequate and effective policing in the city of Ottawa and he has to make sure that he has the resources," she told CBC.

"He needs to take the time to do all in his power to get every single man and woman of the Ottawa Police Service to be fully vaccinated."

Councillor criticizes delayed timeline

Not all city councillors felt the delay should be allowed.

"What's been announced today ... is coming too late and it's also extending for too late. It should apply in 2021," said Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, who did acknowledge the policy change is important.

"This is to protect their colleagues. This is to protect the public in the spirit of the roles and responsibilities of a public organization."

Ottawa police said nearly 84 per cent of members are fully vaccinated.

In a tweet Friday afternoon, the mayor thanked the chief for creating a stricter vaccine policy.

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