City of Orillia latest municipality to implement vaccine policy for staff

The City of Orillia is joining several other municipalities implementing a vaccine policy for employees, requiring staff to provide proof of vaccination.

Related Article: Barrie mayor supports disciplinary action for unvaccinated staff

In a release issued on Tuesday, the city said employees who haven't been vaccinated or who don't disclose their vaccination status "will be required to complete mandatory education on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination."

Mayor Steve Clarke said, "hopefully, that education in itself will help them realize that all the medical evidence strongly supports getting vaccinated."

The mayor added that he hopes the policy will be "enough of a motivator."

"If it isn't, it will go back to council to become a mandatory one," Clarke stated.

The city will allow medical exemptions, but those employees will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing.

Clarke said the city is following the Ontario Human Rights Code and doesn't believe anyone could challenge the policy from a legal standpoint.

"I hope that we have struck a balance that is fair and would stand up if challenged," he concluded.

The policy takes effect on Nov. 15, giving employees eight weeks to get both vaccine doses.

Additionally, the city is working to implement Ontario's vaccine certificate that restricts access to unvaccinated residents at certain indoor businesses, such as the Orillia Opera House. It comes into effect in one week, on Sept. 22.