TTC says employees must be vaccinated by year's end or will be fired

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TTC employees have until Nov. 20 to be vaccinated, the transit agency says, or they will be placed on unpaid leave. People who don't get vaccinated before the end of 2021 will be fired. (John Sandeman/CBC - image credit)
TTC employees have until Nov. 20 to be vaccinated, the transit agency says, or they will be placed on unpaid leave. People who don't get vaccinated before the end of 2021 will be fired. (John Sandeman/CBC - image credit)

The TTC announced Friday it is pushing back the deadline it has imposed on employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while also revealing that unvaccinated employees will be fired as of the end of 2021.

Workers who are unvaccinated or who have not shared their vaccination status by Nov. 20 will be placed on unpaid leave until they get their shots, the agency said in a news release. Those who don't comply by Dec. 31 will be fired.

Those measures don't apply to employees with an approved Ontario Human Rights Code accommodation or a medical exemption, the agency said in a news release, adding that no decision has been made yet on how to accommodate those workers.

"It is unfortunate we have to take these steps," said TTC CEO Rick Leary in a statement.

"The TTC is an essential service and we need it to be a safe place for everyone. We will be doing everything we can to uphold our core value of safety."

The TTC had originally said all TTC employees, including trainees and contractors who work for the transit agency, must have two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 30.

However, the agency revised that deadline Friday, saying it's being pushed back to Nov. 20 as more than 600 workers got their first dose in the last few weeks.

"I want to thank everyone who has gotten vaccinated and disclosed their status to us," Leary said. "This is an important step in putting the pandemic behind us and ensuring that we are doing everything we can to keep our family, friends and communities healthy."

As of Friday, the agency says about 85 per cent of its 15,061 active employees have shared their vaccination status, of which 89 per cent are fully vaccinated and 11 per cent with one dose. In total, 83 per cent of unionized workers and 93 per cent of non-unionized workers have shared their vaccination status.

The agency says that it is making contingency plans for Nov. 21 in case some employees are not vaccinated and unable to work, but it also notes that scheduled hours "may need to be reduced depending on staff availability."

To offset any issues, the TTC says it is looking at a number of options, including speeding up the hiring process for operators, asking recent retirees to come back to work, retraining people to work in different positions and temporarily increasing overtime hours.

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