Details of Town of Cobourg’s Vaccination Mandate

At the Committee of the Whole meeting on October 4, a motion was passed establishing a policy that “Town employees, volunteers, consultants and Members of Council (must) be fully Vaccinated in the workplace” by November 29, 2021.  A previous post mentioned this briefly but the policy is quite detailed and the details are important. The first step is that individuals must disclose their vaccination status by October 22 using the Ontario Government receipt.  If they are not fully vaccinated nor have a valid exemption they will be subject to regular testing.  If testing gives a result showing infection, they “shall not be permitted to work or enter the workplace and will be required to utilize their banked time to make their pay whole”.  Testing will be done at least twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. Fully vaccinated individuals will not be subject to testing.

The Policy provides strong incentives to get vaccinated but does allow medical and religious exemptions (details below).  For individuals with an exemption, testing will be done and paid for by the Town and may be done during paid working hours although the process seems to be onerous: They must “Provide verification of the negative test result to their Manager (via email) prior to attending the workplace and within two (2) hours of their scheduled shift”.  Testing would be twice a week or more at the discretion of the employer.

Who is covered by Policy

The Policy covers all members of Council and all employees of the Town, including full-time, part-time, contract employees, volunteer Firefighters and students.

Exemptions

There are two basic reasons for an exemption from the requirement to be vaccinated:

  • Medical – written medical documentation supplied by a physician (MD) or by a registered nurse extended class (RNEC) or nurse practitioner (NP) that sets out a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated and the effective time period for the medical reason.  I have heard that such exemptions are not easy to get – it must be a serious and legitimate reason.  E.g. not just your dislike of vaccines.
  • Religion or “Creed”. No exemption is allowed based on personal preference or belief – it must be an established religion (or creed) – and I don’t know of any religions in Canada with such beliefs. I’d guess you’d need to prove you have belonged for a while and a letter from an Anti-vax pastor would not be enough. The Ontario Human Rights commission has stated that there are no grounds based on Human Rights – see link below.

Unvaccinated but not Exempt

If an individual covered by the Policy either does not provide proof of vaccination or does not disclose their status and is not exempt they:

  • Must attend mandatory education on the benefits of vaccination that is endorsed by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.
  • Submit to regular antigen testing (Rapid Test) for COVID-19 and demonstrate a negative result (as described above for exempt individuals)
  • Will not be compensated for the cost of testing,
  • Will not be provided test kits for conducting the Rapid Test or be compensated the cost of conducting the testing;
  • Will be required to conduct the testing outside of work time.
  • Should an individual refuse to submit to Rapid Testing as outlined above, they will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence.

Reassignment

Individuals who decline the COVID-19 vaccine may be reassigned to work where the individual has less exposure to potential risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19. If reassignment is deemed necessary, but no alternative work is available, the individual will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence.

Individuals on an unpaid leave of absence may use personal banked time to keep their pay whole.

Legal requirements

Employers like the Town are required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of all individuals’ health and safety, including protection from the spread of an infectious disease. This includes encouragement to have a vaccination policy.

Similarly, individuals are obligated under the Town’s Workplace Health and Safety Commitment to protect their own health and safety by working in compliance with prevailing regulations and standards and with safe work practices and procedures established by the Town and as outlined in the OHSA.

Looks like any Anti-Vaxers working for the Town will have to get vaccinated anyway or be tested at least twice a week (and prove that) or be put on an unpaid leave of absence.

As always – CoW motions need to be ratified at a Regular Council Meeting – in this case on October 12.

Links

Update

The above decision  was confirmed at the October 12 Regular Council meeting.

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27 Comments
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Constance Mealing
14 October 2021 10:21 pm

Why are we unable to get the percentage of vaccinated people for the town of Cobourg?

Mark
12 October 2021 2:36 pm

The new numbers are out
Northumberland has had a big jump in number of people vaccinated over the Oct 4th numbers 😄
https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiYTRhOTE4MmItZTUxNC00MGNmLWJjODktN2UwNThkMTUxODA1IiwidCI6IjdkYzFmZjlkLTA1ZjEtNGNhNi1iYWZlLTIyNmZmNWYxNmJkYSJ9

Rob
12 October 2021 11:02 am

I have to assume the ToC has an understanding of how many of its employees are currently vaccinated prior to the implementation of this policy. This could result in service disruptions, in some cases significant, should only 50-60% of the employee population be double vaxed. We are seeing this in some federally regulated jurisdictions now (CN rail being one). I would be quite concerned if I lived in Quebec and needed health care, given how many “health care hero’s” are about to lose their license to practice nursing. Shameful IMHO

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Rob
12 October 2021 11:13 am

Can anyone explain why many health care workers including licenced nurses have refused to be vaccinated?

Rob
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 October 2021 1:44 pm

Trust. Terrible messaging from the beginning that continues: The J&J clotting debacle. The Astra Zeneca messaging and dosage mixing. The timing between vaccinations messaging (14 days to 4 weeks). Expiry date issues. The “get vaccinated and return to normal” messaging, which clearly isn’t the case. The new you’re going to need a booster messaging and lack of scientific agreement. The lack of a public education campaign related to IVF, pregnant and nursing females. etc etc etc

Just a few but most of this has been mishandled from the very beginning…

Johanne
11 October 2021 12:17 pm

Money, money, money. However how many people are not vaccinated? Elderly with problems, contractors going inside your house claiming they don’t need it etc..

Gerinator
Reply to  Johanne
11 October 2021 1:21 pm

I don’t know this for a fact but my buddy tells me that Northumberland is only 68% double dosed. If accurate this level of vaccination is very surprising to me.

Mark
Reply to  John Draper
11 October 2021 9:53 pm

Northumberland county is a hotbed of anti Vaxxers 🙄
Ontario website show 83% 12+ with two shots for HKPR
https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Mark
11 October 2021 10:46 pm

John`s link was for the Oct 4 data and your link is for Oct 10 so perhaps many younger people have been vaccinated in the last week. Sadly there does not appear to be any data for Cobourg.

Mark
Reply to  John Draper
12 October 2021 8:52 am

I forgot to add in the difference in dates
it would be interesting to see a break down by postal code

Sandpiper
Reply to  John Draper
12 October 2021 9:05 am

This of course is assuming your a registered Canadian Resident not a Migrant worker many now remain yr round

cornbread
11 October 2021 9:32 am

How many working people get the benefit of “Banked Time”? Can our municipal workers accumulate their yearly allowed sick days not taken…if this is true, what a nice contract our tax payers are paying for where most other workers don’t get this benefit.

Leweez
Reply to  cornbread
11 October 2021 10:02 am

Banked time is short for banked overtime, instead of being paid for any overtime worked, they take it in time off.
A win-win for employer and employee

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Leweez
11 October 2021 1:41 pm

Where I worked, a large municipality in Ontario, we had two banks. One was our sick bank and the second was our lieu-time earned bank.

Leweez
Reply to  Gerald Childs
11 October 2021 4:53 pm

Gerald Childs, yes, the good old days, and back then most of your sick bank got paid out if you didn’t use it

marya
Reply to  Leweez
13 October 2021 7:18 am

Then there were the good older days when no perks or benefits of any form existed.

Informed
Reply to  cornbread
11 October 2021 1:54 pm

Would you rather pay 1.5 times overtime when needed. Ie. Winter storms for plowing during bad storms? Should they work for free? Time off in lieu of paý makes sense. I dont believe sick time is banked and paid out. You should investigate and let everyone know so they dont go by speculation and your opinion.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
11 October 2021 2:51 pm

Informed, the union contract for Roads and Sewers Department including Water Pollution Control Plant Operators (THE CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES INSIDE AND OUTSIDE WORKERS LOCAL 25) says:

(g) The Employer will recognize employees who have used zero (0) sick days in the calendar year by granting employees two (2) days off with pay. Days may be used at any time as mutually agreed with the manager.

The contract doesn’t appear to preclude banking these paid days.

Last edited 15 days ago by Ken Strauss
Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 October 2021 3:21 pm

Thanks Ken. Banked time for overtime is a good deal for employee and employer. I wasnt aware of the sick time deal but doesnt seem out of line to me.

Kyle
Reply to  Informed
11 October 2021 3:41 pm

Banked time is NOT a good deal for employers unless the banked time is taken off within the current contract year. An employee trick for years was to save banked time up and as salaries went up so did value of bank time. If they retired or left bank time had to be paid out at the current rate.

Informed
Reply to  Kyle
11 October 2021 4:09 pm

Sick time, banked time, overtime. It all has to be managed effectively and efficiently. BT is a sound alternative to automatically paying overtime if its managed correctly and has parameters laid out in the contract.

cornbread
Reply to  Informed
11 October 2021 4:02 pm

Read what I wrote… “If this is true” promotes a question…not an opinion.

Informed
Reply to  cornbread
11 October 2021 4:13 pm

I read it

Elmo
11 October 2021 8:22 am

Tough but fair using the concept of societal benefit wherein the rights of the few are abrogated in times of crisis to ensure the safety of the many.

greengrass
11 October 2021 8:15 am

this should bring the anti-vaxxers out of the woodwork?