35 EMS and 10 Essex County staff face layoff if not vaccinated by Sept. 7

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The message to county employees is simple, get vaccinated or provide a medical reason for exemption by next week or don't come to work.

That's according to the union representing more than 300 Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services workers and close to 50 Essex County staff members.

President of CUPE 2974 James Jovanovic says the union supports vaccination, but some of its membership hasn't received the shot for a variety of reasons.

He says just over 35 EMS staff will be told to stay home without pay if they don't have the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 7

"It's extremely disheartening because they were heroes, they absolutely were, and within a few days time, they go from the ones that got us through this pandemic who are heroes amongst many, to now be threatened with livelihood," he added.

Jovanovic says EMS services are already under staffed.

"When we reduce that staffing by an additional 10 to 20 per cent, I don't want to speculate or really discuss the consequences of that, but in my mind they'd be catastrophic," he says.

Just over 10 county staff have yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine, according to Jovanovic.

"They've been successfully and productively working for the County of Essex to help the community through this pandemic from home until now," he says. "They've been ordered back to the workplace and to take a vaccine that they have personal concerns about."

Jovanovic says the union has written Essex County Council and is trying to open a discussion with management to come up with a compromise that won't see unvaccinated staff laid off.

- with files from AM800's Rob Hindi