August 23, 2021by Israel Foulon LLP
An update on recent trends showcasing the adoption of mandatory vaccination policies across Canada.
Federal Government Vaccine Mandate
On August 13, 2021, the federal government announced that it would be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy, requiring all federal public service employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, the policy will extend to all international, and interprovincial travel including, commercial airfare and train passenger services. The federal government urged all federally regulated businesses (banks, telecommunications and broadcasting, etc.) to adopt similar policies.
Last week, Canada’s five major financial institutions committed to instituting policies in line with the federal government’s vaccination mandate, requiring employees to register their vaccination status by no later than October 31, 2021.
Ontario to Make Vaccines Mandatory in High-Risk Settings
On August 17, 2021, the Province of Ontario announced that it was implementing a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for certain high-risk sectors, including hospitals, home and community care service providers and paramedics. Affected businesses must put in place the vaccination policy no later than September 7, 2021. At a minimum, the policy will require that individuals provide proof of one of three things:
- Full vaccination against COVID-19;
- A medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19; or
- Completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational session.
Individuals who do not provide proof of full vaccination will be required to undergo regular antigen testing.
You can review the full Ontario Newsroom press release HERE.
City of Toronto Urges Businesses to Make Vaccination Mandatory
On August 19, 2021, Mayor John Tory, announced that he would be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy for all City of Toronto employees. Pursuant to the policy, the City will require all employees to disclose and provide proof of vaccination status by September 13, 2021. Unvaccinated individuals will be required to attend a mandatory vaccination education session on the benefits of the vaccine. As of October 30, 2021, the City will require all employees to have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and Toronto Public Health, strongly recommends that all businesses/workplaces implement vaccination policies that require at minimum:
- Workers to provide proof of their vaccination series approved by Health Canada or the World Health Organization
- Unvaccinated employees to provide written proof of a medical reason from a physician or nurse practitioner that includes whether the reason is permanent or time-limited
- Unvaccinated workers to complete a vaccination education course on the risks of being unvaccinated in the workplace
You can review the City of Toronto’s full press release HERE.
Employees can access and request a vaccination receipt by following accessing the government’s vaccination support website here. HERE.
Take Away for Employers
We expect the trends outlined above to continue towards the acceptance of mandatory vaccination policies in the weeks and months to come.
When considering whether to implement a mandatory vaccination policy, employers should carefully consider their obligations to provide a safe work environment. Consideration should also include:
- whether there has been any past history of transmission in the workplace;
- whether it is possible to maintain social distancing in the workplace;
- the need for close contact with customers / clients / patients;
- whether employees interact with vulnerable populations; and
- whether the employer can implement other less intrusive measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19.
Employers considering mandatory vaccination policies should provide employees with advanced notice prior to implementing and enforcing any policies and may wish to first consider education campaigns based on government and scientific literature that encourages employees to voluntarily seek vaccination. Any policy must provide clear exceptions for individuals on the basis of religious or medical accommodation.
We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice and assistance with drafting and implementing a vaccination policy in the workplace.
Israel Foulon Wong’s Response to COVID-19 Israel Foulon Wong LLP is assessing the situation as it evolves, and is taking all necessary precautions within its workplace. To slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health of our team and clients, absent extraordinary circumstances we are working remotely until further notice whenever possible. However, please be aware that our offices remain open and are fully functioning. In the circumstances, we encourage our clients to contact us by phone and email to the extent possible. Voicemail messages left at our office phone numbers are immediately forwarded via email. All messages will be promptly responded to. We remain steadfast in our commitment to our clients and would be more than happy to assist you with concerns regarding COVID-19 or any other employment or labour matters.