Council approves vaccine policy for city workers

Windsor City Council has unanimously approved a mandatory workplace COVID-19 Vaccine policy for its workers and it will go into effect later this year.

“Employers do have a responsibility and you see our federal government taking steps, you see our provincial governments across the country taking steps like this,” says Windsor mayor, Drew Dilkens.

Other municipalities across the province, including Toronto, Hamilton, York, Sudbury, and the County of Essex are enacting similar policies.

“In our country, Canada has formally given approval today to the vaccines Moderna and Pfizer,” says Dilkens.

Administration developed a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy to provide safe and healthy workplaces in Windsor as part of the ongoing effort to protect the community from COVID-19.

It will require city employees provide documentation proving that they are fully vaccinated or that they have applied for and received a valid accommodation under human rights legislation by Nov. 15 or they will be placed on unpaid leave.

This may create a need across departments to find temporary employees to maintain service levels.

“I think we have to take every step possible to make sure that we mitigate in any way, business impacts, education impacts,” says Councillor Jo-Anne Gignac.

Contractors and volunteers will also need to be fully vaccinated to access city facilities

The city says information regarding employees' vaccination status will be kept confidential.

“We have an idea of how many are already vaccinated percentage wise it’s upwards of 80 per cent, a little more than 80 per cent, so we think we’re in a good position,” Dilkens tells CTV News.

“Nobody wants to do this, but this is something I believe we have to do and this is literally where we’re at right now 18 months into this crisis,” added ward 1 councillor Fred Francis.

Unions representing both inside and outside workers feel the policy leaves out an important issue.

“When this was first rolled out to us... it did have testing in it. We were all on board with that. We had a great conversation with HR,” says Rob Kolody, president CUPE Local 82.

“I think that would kill a lot of that issue of that divide and segregation starting,” says Kris Matton, president, Windsor Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Administration will also be implementing activities and training related to vaccine promotion and education for employees, to help inform those who might be vaccine hesitant, in advance of the deadlines.

Dilkens says the policy will now be forwarded to all affiliated agencies.