Union files grievance over Toronto's plan to terminate unvaccinated workers

Toronto City Hall is seen in this undated photo.

One of the city’s largest unions says that it has filed a grievance over the City of Toronto’s plan to place all of its unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave beginning next month.

Nearly 90 per cent of city workers who have disclosed their vaccination status are already fully immunized but on Wednesday the city announced that any worker who remains unvaccinated without an approved exemption after Nov. 1 will be placed on a six-week unpaid leave of absence.

The city says that it will then terminate those employees with cause as of Dec. 13 should they not provide proof of vaccination.

However, in a communication sent to members late Wednesday the city’s outside workers union – CUPE Local 416 – said that it has filed a grievance alleging the application of the city’s policy is “unreasonable and violates provisions of the collective agreement.”

The union also encouraged any members who has been approached by management regarding the policy to request union representation.

City staff were required to disclose their vaccination status by Sept. 17 and be at least partially vaccinated by Sept. 30.

So far about 95 per cent of all employees have completed the disclosure form. Of those individuals 89 per cent are fully vaccinated, five per cent are partially vaccinated, four per cent are unvaccinated and two per cent refused to discoes their status.

City spokesperson Brad Ross told CP24 on Wednesday that the city is “incredibly encouraged” by the numbers so far but does plan to hold vaccination clinics at a number of city workplaces in the coming weeks in order to increase them further.

“This is about protecting themselves and their community and their coworkers. As an employer, we have an obligation to protect workers through the Occupational Health and Safety Act,” he said.

Mississauga will allow unvaccinated employees to participate in regular testing

A number of municipalities have implemented their own mandatory vaccination mandates in the wake of Toronto announcing its policy in August.

But Toronto is the first Greater Toronto Area municipality to announce plans to actually terminate workers who are not in compliance.

Mississauga has said that unvaccinated workers or those who refuse to disclose their status as of Oct. 31 will have to participate in an educational course and then undergo regular testing at their own expense.

However, in a briefing on Thursday Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie suggested that a more heavy handed approach isn’t off the table.

“We are still in that disclosure phase and we are reassessing and re-evaluating as we learn more and more about our own employees vaccination status,” she said. “I am not going to make any pronouncements on whether will take the same approach as Toronto has but we are evaluating.”