A COVID-19 vaccination policy for the North Bay Police Service is in place and it requires all members to declare their COVID-19 vaccination status by Dec. 6 and comply with the policy's terms or they will not be permitted to work and will not be paid.
The policy, effective Nov. 19, states members who are not fully vaccinated will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test. The test must be completed in the 24-hour period prior to beginning their work assignment. After beginning their shift, members who are not fully vaccinated are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test 72 hours after the initial negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test was submitted. Members who do not provide the required testing information will be placed on unpaid absence.
According to NBPS spokesperson David Woolley, "The policy is designed to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees at work and the public we serve. Regardless of vaccination status, all members are required to complete daily active screening for COVID-19 and must abide by all COVID-19 health and safety measures such as masking and physical distancing. Any members testing positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter the workplace. We thank our members for their understanding and continued support of workplace health and safety."
The policy covers all 160 sworn and civilian members of the North Bay Police Service, including Chief of Police Scott Tod and Deputy Chief Michael Daze. The policy also covers all individuals working out of North Bay Police Service headquarters.
As the policy was being worked out in recent months, Tod advised: "Adopting a policy that people will follow and agree to is very important so we are very cognizant of what other industries, health care industries and other corporations around Ontario are doing...we hope that we can move forward with other police services in having a similar policy that is accepted by policing in general across Ontario."
All OPP personnel, as members of the Ontario Public Service, must provide proof of full vaccination, have a medical reason for not being vaccinated or complete a COVID-19 vaccination educational session and undergo subsequent regular COVID-19 testing.
Compliance has been an issue within the Toronto Police Service as the union representing its members opposed the TPS requirement for all of its members to be fully vaccinated. The TPS policy, enacted in late summer, applies to both uniformed and civilian members. The deadline to provide proof of vaccination status was extended to earlier this week.
According to a Canadian Press report, as of Tuesday, 117 uniformed and 88 civilian members were placed on unpaid leave either for being unvaccinated against COVID-19 or for refusing to disclose their vaccination status. TPS says those members placed on unpaid leave will be allowed to return to their jobs once they disclose they are fully vaccinated. The Toronto Police Service reports 97.3 per cent of the police service's 7,415 employees are vaccinated and TPS Chief James Ramer has made assurances the unpaid absences will not affect public safety.
The rate of compliance of NBPS members regarding the COVID-19 vaccination policy cannot be shared until after the Dec. 6 deadline, says Woolley.