0 248 city of Toronto employees suspended without pay for not showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination
TORONTO – People have been fined for violating Toronto City Health Regulations on vaccines, but this year, 252 employees in the Toronto City of Zoo Authority were suspended without pay for going off the list.
This month, a union representing employees sued the City of Toronto, claiming the 248 suspensions violated due process.
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In July, the City of Toronto suspended 248 employees without pay for not registering their vaccines with the Toronto Public Health department. The suspension, which can last for up to three months, happened in July, after the city announced a new list of vaccines.
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The decision allowed the employees to pay their fines off as early as September or October.
Teresa Amarosa has worked at The Toronto Zoo for over a decade, and she was among those who were told to go off the list.
“I found out about the person that was charged from my colleagues in my department and I actually read the charge,” Amarosa said.
She paid the fine out of frustration.
“I wasn’t expecting that all of our colleagues would be charged and it was shocking to learn that so many people were charged that they should have known,” Amarosa said.
According to city, the new laws require employees to get vaccinated against 9 different strains of H1N1, influenza A and also measles in order to work.
“If an employee refuses to vaccinate their children, they’re also required to obtain a waiver from the staff doctor to return to work,” says Daniel Gauthier, director of environmental health.
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But Michael Gardam, the representative for the city’s workers, says he filed a complaint with Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, demanding that the employee’s work day be restored.
He claims the city does not have to prove an employee has not vaccinated their children.
“I’m thankful the Ministry of Labour has agreed to intervene, because without them, we wouldn’t have known that the province was actually illegally suspending workers,” Gardam said.
So who does this actually hurt?
It’s the families of these workers and their children.
“Many of our families worked in factories, the old mill workers who started before the fairs and that type of thing, so a lot of them did not have up-to-date immunizations,” said Mandy Woods, a labor organizer.
In Toronto, there are a total of 27,000 employees who work at three city of Toronto institutions: the zoo, the aquatic centre and Downsview Park.
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The Province of Ontario is not enforcing the legislation, and will allow employees to pay their fines off, as soon as October 16.
Those fines start at $200 for the first offense and increase every year.
Anyone caught violating these laws can face severe penalties up to a potential $5,000 fine, and up to six months in jail for “serious infractions.”
For more information, visit http://tora.net/VgaZ04/index.html.
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