Toronto has extended the deadline for its employees to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status to the city until Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.
About 37,000 city employees were initially required to report their vaccination status to the city by the end of Monday, but the city has moved that date until this Friday to accommodate employees who are not near computers on a daily basis or who do not have ready access to computers.
City spokesperson Brad Ross said more than half of city employees have reported their vaccination status. Employees can report using a smart phone, he added.
"The city policy is quite clear. You must be fully vaccinated to work for the City of Toronto," Ross said on Monday. "If you do not comply with the policy, the city does have the right to progressive discipline up to and including dismissal."
Ross said the city would prefer not to dismiss employees because of their vaccination status and would prefer that employees get vaccinated. He said it will look at situations on a case by case basis.
"We want people to get themselves vaccinated to protect themselves and protect everybody around them so that we can once and for all get out of this pandemic," Ross said.
On its website, the city said: "Proof means documentation verifying receipt of a vaccination series approved by Health Canada or the World Health Organization."
All Toronto employees must still have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 30 and must have two doses by Oct. 30.
The city declined to release actual numbers of city employees who have disclosed their vaccination status as of Monday.
Mayor says 'solid majority' have disclosed status already
At a news conference on Monday, however, Mayor John Tory said a "solid majority" have disclosed their vaccination status, and of that number, 97 per cent are either fully or partially vaccinated and 93 per cent are fully vaccinated.
"I'm just heartened by the fact that people have responded," Tory said.
The mayor added that the city is anxious to preserve the "good partnership" it has with its employees.
Those who disclose that they are not yet vaccinated or who refuse to disclose their vaccination status will be required to take mandatory education on the benefits of vaccination. The city has not released details of what that education will look like.
Ross said the vaccination education will be developed online and delivered in-house.
Toronto police, TTC workers also required to report status
Meanwhile, Toronto Police Service members have until the end of Monday to disclose their vaccination status, while employees of the Toronto Transit Commission have until Sept. 20, 2021 to report.
In a statement, Toronto police said: "At this time, the majority of members have already done so. We will take a few days to review. Meanwhile, the service is continuing to develop the policy which will include how it will be implemented."
TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the transit agency will also provide mandatory education for those who are not vaccinated by the deadline. Informal surveys have indicated that most TTC employees are either fully vaccinated or intend to do so shortly. It's about safety for employees and customers, he added.
"We have heard anecdotally through our employees that they overwhelmingly support this initiative. They want to come to work knowing that the people they are working beside are vaccinated so they are safe at the workplace," Green said.
"All the indicators and all the signs are that this is going to go very smoothly."
Daniel Lublin, a partner at Whitten and Lublin Employment Lawyers in Toronto, said on Monday his firm has never been busier because hundreds of unvaccinated people are seeking legal advice.
"They're scared that they're going to lose their jobs. They're scared about the world we're living in right now where they feel like they are being forced to share sensitive medical information," Lublin said.