A small group of protesters were outside city hall Monday as mandatory proof of COVID-19 vaccination came into effect for all City of Windsor employees, council members, contractors and volunteers who aren't exempted.
In an afternoon news release, the city said the percentage of staff confirming vaccination status or an approved accommodation rose from 78 per cent last week to about 91 per cent as of Nov. 15.
Even with the increase in the percentage of city staff confirming vaccination status or an approved accommodation, the city said some services will still be disrupted and it was clear Transit Windsor service needed to be adjusted.
The city said the staffing challenges at Transit Windsor will lead to service disruptions this week due to the significant number of operations and maintenance staff deemed to be non-compliant with the vaccination policy, forcing the service to move from current full service to an enhanced Saturday service model effective Nov. 22.
"Service will continue, but there will be fewer busses in rotation, and unfortunately delays should be expected," executive director Tyson Cragg said.
"This will not apply to the school extra buses; those will remain a priority. We apologize for any impacts and thank residents and riders for their understanding."
Riders are urged to check the Transit Windsor website for updates and use the Transit App for real-time arrival information.
Protesting the policy
One of the protesters at city hall, Stan Whittaker, who became a municipal employee in June, said workers were being put in a position to either get vaccinated or not be allowed to work.
"That's a huge overreach of the power of our employer," Whittaker told CBC Windsor.
"It's something that shouldn't happen. There's no accommodation even being put forward for us."
According to Whittaker, testing is a viable option to keep a safe workplace. He said other industries and nearby municipalities are allowing testing.
"We're very frustrated. Our union is not representing us the way we should be and it makes the whole fight more difficult, because instead of just fighting directly for our jobs like we should be with our union, we have to fight our union first," he said.
"We have no income now, Christmas is around the corner … There are people in Windsor who are willing to stand up and fight this. This isn't right."
Ron Lafferty said he got the first dose of a vaccine Monday because of the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.
"This is my first, today is the day," Lafferty told CBC News.
He said he waited until the last minute and took the vaccine "100 per cent against my will."
He believes others who waited this long to get vaccinated will eventually do it, given the risk to their jobs.
"People got to work so they are going to have to get it one way or the other, sooner or later. You're basically forced to do it."