mandatory vaccine ontario

These employers in Ontario now have mandatory vaccine policies for the workplace

Mandatory vaccine policies in Ontario are becoming more common as companies and schools look ahead to getting back to normal. In fact, some companies and universities have already put vaccination policies in place for returning staff members.

An odd collection of Ontario employers — including Seneca College, University of Toronto, Western University, uOttawaFilmores Gentleman's Club and accounting firm Crowe Soberman LLP are among the places requiring (with some exemptions) employees get vaccinated before returning to work.

Filmores manager Kasper Cameron told the Toronto Star that all staff have received double vaccinations and they decided to introduce the policy because he believes the strip club industry is already subject to unfair scrutiny, so they wanted to go beyond what is already required.

Seneca College stated they needed a policy to protect the health and safety of their community from the spread of COVID-19.

"Seneca is requiring that individuals be vaccinated as a condition to come on campus and to live, work or attend student residence," states the policy.

The Globe and Mail reports that Toronto law firm Bales Beall LLP, mortgage platform Pinch Financial and accounting firm Crowe Soberman LLP are requiring staff be vaccinated.

Unlike the United States, where large companies such as Disney can require vaccination, Canada doesn’t have such laws in place yet.

Although, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is considering making vaccines mandatory for federal government staff and could pass a law requiring shots for employees who work in industries regulated by Ottawa.

For now, employers are looking for advice and making their own choices.

Workplaces have a duty to keep employees safe, employment lawyer Norm Keith told Workplace Safety & Prevention Services.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers in Ontario have "tremendously high legal obligations to keep workers and third parties that interact with our employees safe," he said. Employers must take every "precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers."

But that doesn't make the decision clear-cut.

Mandatory vaccines for federally regulated sectors would require legislative changes, Sara Slinn, Osgoode Hall Law School’s associate dean told the Globe and Mail.

"It's certainly a dilemma for employers. I would imagine most employers would prefer that their workers be vaccinated," Slinn said.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association suggests there are privacy concerns around workplaces demanding to know employees' vaccination status.

However, in places such as long-term care homes and hospitals, "it's probably going to be easier to justify that than in an office" with physical distancing, Cara Zwibel, association’s director of Fundamental Freedoms Program told CBC.

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