Almost 600 City of Ottawa staff to be placed on leave under mandatory vaccination policy

The City of Ottawa says nearly 600 employees will be placed on leave for failing to comply with the city’s mandatory vaccination policy.

In a memo sent Monday afternoon, City Manager Steve Kanellakos said 96 per cent of city employees are fully vaccinated. The remaining four per cent represent 592 employees across all departments.

“Of these, 400 have not yet reported their vaccination status, 72 are partially vaccinated and 120 are either not vaccinated or had an exemption that was denied,” Kanellakos wrote.

“Employees who have not met the requirements of the policy will be placed on leave (vacation, time off in lieu or unpaid leave) until such time as they can demonstrate they are fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption.”

Kanellakos said that, given the high rate of vaccination among employees, the city does not anticipate any significant service disruptions; however, “some targeted service disruptions or delays may be experienced should a department need to implement a mitigation plan to maintain business continuity,” he said.

The memo also said that 58 of the city’s 1,500 OC Transpo and Para Transpo operators have either not reported their vaccination status or are unvaccinated. OC Transpo’s level of vaccination is 95 per cent among all staff, Kanellakos said. Again, he is not anticipating major service disruptions, but added that there may be an impact on a small number of trips. The 58 OC Transpo operators identified in the memo are included in the 592 employees citywide who were not compliant with the policy. 

Clint Crabtree, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279, told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron” that there would be more demands for overtime because of this.

“To cover the people that are off, you’ll have to have people doing extra work, such as overtime, for service adjustments and to make sure the buses are properly maintained and cleaned by our maintenance personnel,” he said.

Crabtree said approximately 40 maintenance personnel are also on leave because of the policy.

“They’ll be on a leave of absence until they’re either fully vaccinated or the City of Ottawa determines when that is no longer acceptable,” he said. “I’m sure some of them will come to getting the vaccination. I know a couple that have the first shot and are waiting to get the second one, so there is going to be more that become fully vaccinated and absolutely there will be some that just wait it out.”

Among the general population of Ottawa, 87 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

More than 1,000 federal workers could also be placed on leave for failing to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 without a valid exemption under the federal government’s mandatory vaccination policy.