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City of Hamilton introduces COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all City employees

HAMILTON, ON – The City of Hamilton is implementing a policy that requires all City employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by May 31, 2022.

The decision to include the amendment to the City’s Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Verification Policy was made at a Special Council Meeting earlier today.

The revised Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Verification Policy reflects the City’s commitment to protect the health and safety of employees and the community, and takes into consideration the City’s duties and obligations under applicable workplace health and safety and labour legislation. Ensuring high rates of vaccination among our staff remains a pillar of the City’s COVID-19 response.

Changes to the policy include:

  • Employees who are unvaccinated or have not disclosed their vaccination status will continue to participate in the City’s COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program and will have until May 31, 2022 to provide proof of their full vaccination status.
  • Any employee failing to provide this proof by May 31, 2022 will have their employment with the City terminated, effective June 1, 2022.
  • The City will accommodate employees with an approved medical exemption as it relates to compliance with the policy.
  • If there are times that the City is unable to provide rapid antigen tests between now and May 31, 2022, unvaccinated employees or those who have elected not to disclose their vaccination status will be temporarily placed on a paid leave of absence. Where operationally feasible, these staff may be asked to work from home instead.
  • The policy applies to all City of Hamilton employees, including full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, casual, volunteers, Council members, members of Council-appointed committees and students. Any policy related issues for Council members and members of Council-appointed committees will be addressed through their code of conduct.

Additional quick facts:

  • To date, approximately 93 per cent of City employees have provided proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Currently, 474 City of Hamilton employees are participating in the City’s COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program and have not provided proof of both doses of their COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • To date, 68 employees have been placed on an unpaid leave of absence for refusing to disclose their vaccination status or participate in the rapid testing.
  • Hamilton City Council first approved the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Verification Policy on August 26, 2021, which included an option for rapid antigen testing for those staff who were unvaccinated or chose not to disclose their vaccination status.
  • At this time, the definition of “fully vaccinated” is an individual who has received the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine or combination of COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It does not include booster shots at this time.

“We know that the COVID-19 vaccine and booster work to protect people from becoming infected with the virus, acquiring more serious infections and in the end save lives. We are committed to taking all the necessary steps to ensure City of Hamilton work spaces are as safe as possible. I encourage all our employees who are not yet vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. Please do the right thing now and get vaccinated. It will help protect you, your coworkers and your loved ones.” - Mayor Fred Eisenberger 

 “The amendments to this policy are another step the City is taking to continue protecting the health and safety of our employees and the broader community in Hamilton. As an employer, the City has a duty to protect the health and safety of our workforce. I’m encouraged to see that approximately 93 per cent of our employees have reported their full vaccination status already and urge those who haven’t yet to get vaccinated, as we know it is one of the best ways to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.” - Janette Smith, City Manager

“Since it was first approved in August 2021, the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Verification Policy has been meant to promote the benefits of getting vaccinated and ensure a healthy and safe work environment for all City staff as well as those residents visiting our facilities or interacting with City staff. As we look ahead toward phasing out the City’s COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program, those employees who have chosen not to become vaccinated or not disclose their vaccination status to the City are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated to continue active employment with the City of Hamilton.” - Lora Fontana, Executive Director, Human Resources

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