City of Toronto fires 461 employees for failing to comply with COVID-19 vaccine policy by deadline

Hundreds of City of Toronto employees have been fired for failing to meet the city’s vaccination deadline, either because they weren’t immunized at all or didn’t report their vaccine status on time.

The city provided the figure in a news release Wednesday, saying over 98 per cent of its active workforce has reported being fully vaccinated — which amounts to 32,478 employees. A total of 461 have been terminated.

The deadline to comply with the city’s vaccine policy was midnight on Jan. 2, an extension of the city’s previous deadline last year. 

“With the rise of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, ensuring all City employees are fully vaccinated is more important than ever to provide a safe workplace and support the ongoing and safe delivery of services, especially critical and essential services, to the public,” the city said in its release.

The city says 248 employees have reported receiving just one dose of the vaccine and that those employees will have meetings with their managers starting this week.

“If at that meeting the employee is found to still not have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, employment could be terminated that day. Consideration will be given to employees who have an appointment booked for their second dose,” the city said.

Another 37 employees are on temporary leave awaiting a decision on their requests for accommodation. Staff who cannot receive the vaccine for a legitimate reason protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code are entitled to accommodation, it says. 

On Tuesday, Mayor John Tory pledged that Toronto will maintain emergency, vaccination and other essential services in the coming days and weeks, even as COVID-19-related staffing shortages forces the closure of dozens of city libraries.

At a news conference Tuesday, Tory said the city is redeploying staff from non-critical departments to critical ones as it plans for a high number of unplanned staff absences caused by the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

“We are laser focused on making sure that the essential and critical city services that residents rely on continue to be delivered,” he said.

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