Sudbury health unit calling for local workplaces to establish vaccination policies for employees

·3 min read

Public Health Sudbury and Districts is recommending that all local employers put a vaccination policy in place. The new initiative was outlined in a news release Monday morning and includes a recommendation that employees provide proof of vaccinations.

"As Ontario and the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts enter the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is dominated by the more transmissible and dangerous Delta variant, Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts, is strongly recommending that employers put vaccination policies in place to protect their employees and the public from COVID-19," said the release.

In support of the new plan, PHSD has published an online Workplace Toolkit for local employers who wish to step up the level of employee protection. PHSD said employers can choose "to strengthen their COVID-19 workplace protection.”

The toolkit document reminds employers that they're required by law to keep workplaces safe.

"As an employer it’s your responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker. Under the O. Reg. 364/20: Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step, all persons responsible for a business that is open must have a written COVID-19 safety plan (Government of Ontario)," said the document.

PHSD said it is leading by example with a vaccination policy for its own staff as well as students, contractors and volunteers involved with the health unit.

“As a workplace, it’s our responsibility to take every reasonable precaution to protect our workers and the public,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

PHSD added that each workplace is encouraged to evaluate risks associated with COVID-19 in their own situations.

For instance, the Public Health Sudbury & Districts policy requires all employees, contractors, volunteers and students to provide proof of one of the following:

-COVID-19 vaccination,

-A documented medical reason for a vaccine exemption, and

-Completion of an approved educational program.

Policies must be developed in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code, Occupational Health and Safety Act and any other applicable legislation. Information about a person’s vaccine status is personal health information and must be collected in compliance with privacy legislation including the Personal Health Information Protection Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code, said the release.

In the meantime, PHSD said it is available to provide COVID-19 vaccines as they are needed by the business community.

"Employers, as well as community organizations, community leaders, faith leaders, or event co-ordinators, can contact Public Health Sudbury & Districts to discuss the possibility of having COVID-19 vaccinations offered on site," said the PHSD news release.

In a related development, there are news reports from Queen's Park indicating that Ontario will support the idea of vaccine passports, which will allow fully vaccinated citizens to have access to places such as pubs, restaurants and cinemas.

Although Premier Doug Ford was initially against the idea, many business leaders said they support passports because it will allow them to continue operating their businesses without having to worry about the possibility of unvaccinated individuals spreading the Delta Variant of the COVID-19 virus.

The idea of vaccine passports has also been endorsed by the Ontario Medical Association..For more information or if you have questions, please visit phsd.ca/COVID-19 or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705-522-9200 (toll-free 1-866-522-9200).

Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com. He covers health care in Northern Ontario.

Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com

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