The City of North Bay confirms 11 of its employees have been terminated in relation to its workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy, to date.
Communications Officer Gord Young tells BayToday, "approximately 95 per cent of employees at the City of North Bay are fully vaccinated and 11 employees have received termination notices related to failing to comply," to the policy, introduced in early October.
See original story: City employees will need to show proof of full vaccination status
North Bay City Council voted the policy — developed by CAO David Euler and staff — into effect, mandating City employees to provide proof of full vaccination status by November 29. Exemptions for employees based on religious or health grounds are contingent upon proof of a negative rapid antigen test at regular intervals not to exceed 72 hours.
However, "the City’s policy does not provide for testing as an alternative to vaccination," clarifies Young.
Under the policy, full and part-time employees; temporary, casual, and contract workers; volunteers; students; members of council and council-appointed committee members had until Oct. 15 to declare proof of vaccination status and until Nov. 29. to be fully vaccinated.
Prior to the vote, in which all members voted in favour except for Coun. George Maroosis, Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch identified the policy as a means to "continue to protect the health and safety of City of North Bay employees, and members of the public from the spread of COVID-19, and to meet the obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take all necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of the workforce."
Maroosis abstained from voting, having raised concerns about losing members of the City's workforce who opted not to be vaccinated.
Maroosis maintained the policy needed an administrative leave option. "I'd hate to see anyone lose their job permanently. And, of course, we haven't even talked about what kind of severance might have to be paid out in these situations."
The November 29 window was intended to give staff the needed time to receive both shots and report to work. Management and supervisors provided employees the time needed to comply.
The terminations of the City of North Bay employees were effective immediately upon receipt of the notices. The policy clearly states, "Non-compliance with this policy may result in discipline up to and including termination."
Asked if the terminated employees would have the opportunity to re-apply for their former positions, Young advises, "At this time, every new employee is required to comply with our COVID-19 Vaccination Policy as a condition of employment."
CUPE Local 122 represents 300 full- and part-time inside/outside City of North Bay employees and library workers. President of CUPE Local 122 Brent Lavigne told BayToday at the outset of the policy's implementation the union wanted to avoid terminations and have legitimate exemptions honoured.
"We want to make sure that the employer is able to accommodate anyone that fits those requirements — as in a medical accommodation or for religious reasons."
"We know vaccinations are the best way to protect our community," said Coun. Bill Vrebosch in support of the policy, in October. "We have an obligation to make our workplaces as safe as possible during this fourth wave. We can't afford another lockdown."