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DNSSAB extends employee COVID-19 vaccination policy

DNSSAB, in following the local Health Unit's example, created a workplace vaccination protocol 'as a temporary measure,' in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
2021 07 05 Vaccination Vaccine Health Unit (Campaigne) 1
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic offered by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit.

The District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board is maintaining its COVID-19 workplace vaccination protocol for a further year following the approval of its board of directors on Wednesday.

A staff report recommending the extension of the policy advised the move is "in keeping with the organization's values of putting people first and being proactive, which includes assuming an active role, anticipating future needs, and focusing on prevention." 

DNSSAB, in following the local Health Unit's example, created a workplace vaccination protocol "as a temporary measure," in response to the pandemic, according to the associated staff report. The DNSSAB has approximately 240 employees, more than half are full-time. The vaccination policy applies to the members of two CUPE unions (4720-01 and -02) and one OPSEU (647) union.

Masking requirements in the workplace were later relaxed in 2022. The DNSSAB Board and its associated committee meetings continue to be held by video conference call.

On October 27, 2021, DNSSAB approved a COVID-19 workplace vaccination protocol stating:

  • the policy applies to all existing DNSSAB employees and new hires;
  • it requires the disclosure of vaccination status in writing;
  • if a bona fide exemption exists, in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code, an accommodation would be determined;
  • employees without an accommodation plan and who were not fully vaccinated were required to take leave, using vacation, banked or unpaid time; and,
  • employees were provided paid work time to obtain their vaccination.

The policy states an individual is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving their completed dose, including the completed series of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by Health Canada and any required booster doses as may be applicable:

  • Where an employee is not fully vaccinated due to a bona fide medical or religious exemption approved by HR, they must participate in the accommodation process, and undergo regular rapid antigen testing to protect other employees and ensure adequate infection and prevention control measures. 
  • Employees without an approved accommodation plan and not fully vaccinated may elect to request vacation leave, banked time (if available) or a leave of absence without pay.
  • Non-compliance with this Policy will result in discipline, up to and including termination.

As a comparison, employers in large public sectors such as the City of North Bay, the City of Greater Sudbury, and the North Bay and Parry Sound District Health Unit still have vaccination policies in place.

See related: City vax policy unchanged; fate of fired 12 still in limbo

See also: Powassan drops mandatory vaccination policy for employees

The report acknowledges more employers are considering whether vaccination policies "continue to be appropriate," but notes in "unionized settings, past cases have been brought forward to arbitrators, determining the validity of such policies have generally upheld the employer’s right to mandate a vaccination policy."

Citing a case involving the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association and the City of Toronto, the report states an arbitrator upheld a mandatory vaccination policy requiring two doses but the arbitrator did not enforce disciplinary suspensions or terminations. 

On Dec. 1, 2022, the City of Toronto cancelled its vaccination policy with the disclaimer that “the City will continue to closely monitor its COVID-19 risk mitigation strategy to ensure that it continues to optimally protect the health and safety of employees in the workplace and the public we serve. If it is determined that additional precautions are necessary, the City may decide to deploy new measures to protect employees and the public from COVID-19, and will amend this policy accordingly.”

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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