City of Ottawa makes COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for employees

Ottawa City Hall (File photo).

The city of Ottawa will make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for all its employees, with workers who don’t comply facing possible dismissal.

The new policy will require all employees, contractors, students and volunteers at the city to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, city manager Steve Kanellakos said in a memo on Friday.

“Our goal is to increase the safety of the workplace for staff, as well as for residents accessing our services,” he said. “As we’ve seen the Delta variant fueling resurgences, this policy demonstrates that the city of Ottawa is a leader in our community.”

All staff who are not yet vaccinated must receive their first dose no later than Sept. 15 and their second dose no later than Oct. 15. They must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1.

Staff will be required to disclose proof of vaccination status. The city says it’s working on technology to support the collection and storage of proof of vaccination status.

Staff who are unable to be vaccinated must provide written proof from a doctor or nurse practitioner. Unvaccinated employees who don’t have a valid medical exemption will be required to complete a mandatory education session.

“Staff who do not have a valid medical exemption may take vacation leave, time off in lieu or a leave of absence,” the memo says. Employees who refuse to comply won’t be allowed in the workplace and may be subject to “a variety of consequences, which can include leave without play or discipline, up to and including dismissal.”

Following my request to City Manager Steve Kanellakos, effective Tuesday, the City of Ottawa will implement a Mandatory Vaccination Policy, which will require all employees, contractors, students and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 1, 2021. pic.twitter.com/KwksMDZHr4

— Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) September 3, 2021

Mayor Jim Watson said earlier this summer he didn’t think the city had the legal power to make vaccination mandatory for employees. He then asked the city manager to develop a vaccination policy for city staff.

Kanellakos says the policy was developed with Ottawa Public Health.

Watson says he is bringing a motion to council next week to apply the policy to councillors as well.