Employers are beginning to enforce rules for employees who aren’t vaccinated against the coronavirus.
To go to work today, Ontario long-term care staff must have received their first coronavirus vaccine dose. Staff who don’t present proof of a first dose must instead show a medical exemption to be able to enter a long-term care home for work.
Initially, these workers were to be fully vaccinated against the virus today, but the Ministry of Long-Term Care pushed that date to Dec. 13. The ministry said the change was made to accommodate new guidance on vaccine dose intervals from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
Government data from Friday showed 98 per cent of long-term care workers had received at least one vaccine dose. Rod Phillips, Ontario’s long-term care minister, announced the sector-wide mandate last month, saying more action was needed to protect vulnerable residents from the coronavirus.
In August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that federal employees and workers in federally regulated industries must be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Starting today, core federal employees in the public sector who are unwilling to be vaccinated or refuse to disclose their status may be put on administrative leave without pay. Administrative leave without pay will apply if a manager has determined that the duty to accommodate doesn’t apply and the employee remains unvaccinated; or the employee is unwilling to be vaccinated; or the employee is unwilling to attest to their vaccination status.
Additionally, public sector employees have an obligation to provide a true attestation. Submitting a false statement could constitute a breach of the values and ethics code for the public sector and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. Attestations are being audited and managers can ask for proof of vaccination at any time.
Late last month, Chris Aylward, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said he’s urged all employees, regardless of their vaccine status, to get their forms in to their employer, but said there’s a big hole in the policy when it comes to deciding if unvaccinated people should be accommodated under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
“That’s something that we are obviously very, very concerned about if it is being left up to the individual managers and, certainly, that’s the way it looks right now. Leaving it up to the individual managers to question the sincerity of employees beliefs, that’s just opening the door to discrimination for us for some workers.”