Toronto police officers who ignore vaccine mandate will be placed on ‘indefinite unpaid absence’

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Taking a tough stand yet on mandatory vaccinations, Toronto police announced Thursday that officers who do not have both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of November will no longer be paid and cannot come to work. are “disabled themselves” to perform their duties. “

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As of November 30, any Toronto Police employee who has not been fully vaccinated or who has not disclosed this condition will be placed on an “indefinite unpaid absence” – a step towards protecting the public. A move lauded by a physician as a “positive step”, which often has no choice but to negotiate with the authorities. These employees will also not be allowed to enter Toronto Police buildings or facilities.

And, effective immediately, unvaccinated officers – a category that includes anyone who has not disclosed their status to the police – are ineligible for promotion. For supervisory or management positions. In the statement, Toronto Police Chief James Ramer stressed that COVID-19 vaccination “protects the health and safety of each of our members, our workplaces, and the public we serve.”

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Responding in a public statement on Thursday, Toronto Police Association (TPA) President John Reid stressed that the union is encouraging all members to get vaccinated, but it also has a “duty of fair representation,” which means That we should continue to represent and support all members regardless of their choice.

In an email to members on Thursday and obtained by Star, the TPA further said, it had filed a policy complaint “alleging that the chief’s order and policy are unfair.”

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“An independent arbitrator will address both the interim relief order and resolution for our complaint through an expedited grievance process,” the email said.

In August the officers’ union protested the mandatory vaccination policy due to missing “critical details” and later negotiated an arrangement with Toronto police where members who did not disclose their vaccination status were not disciplined.

As of now, any move to put employees on unpaid absenteeism could affect more than 10 percent of the workforce — as of Thursday, 90 percent of Toronto Police’s nearly 7,500 employees had disclosed their status, and 94 percent of them. Huh. Fully vaccinated.

University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach, whose expertise includes policing, said Thursday that the policy announced by Toronto police “seems very sensible” but noted that it would be interesting to see the TPA’s response.

Should the union take up a challenge, “I predict the majority of the public will be non-supportive,” Roach said.

In their statement, Toronto police said any accommodation under the Human Rights Code “will be respected.” The service also noted that the restrictions announced on Thursday are in line with the approach taken by several others, including the City of Toronto, which said that employees who do not provide proof of two doses by the week of November could face a six-week suspension. have to face. without pay.

The Waterloo and London Police Services have also said that employees will be placed on unpaid leave if they do not vaccinate by a certain date.

Dr. Naheed Dosani, a Toronto-based palliative care physician and health justice activist, said he was concerned about the amount of time it took Toronto police to announce these restrictions, but he was happy with the move.

“This is a very positive step in the right direction for the priority, health and safety of the public, who often do not have much control over whether they will interact with police officers,” Dosani said.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter who covers crime and policing for Star. Reach him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @wendygillis

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