The City of Toronto will be pausing a limited number of recreation classes this week due to staffing impacts resulting from implementation the City’s COVID-19 vaccination policy.
This week, managers and supervisors in the City’s Parks, Forestry & Recreation division are holding meetings with part-time recreation workers who are not yet compliant with the City’s vaccination policy, which required all City employees to have received a full course of vaccine by October 30.
Following these meetings, if staff have not provided proof of being fully vaccinated, they will be suspended for up to six weeks or until proof of vaccination is provided.
The majority of Parks, Forestry & Recreation’s part-time recreation workers are vaccinated, with more are coming into compliance daily. As of today, 91 per cent of these workers have received a complete COVID-19 vaccine course.
Mitigation efforts to avoid program cancellations are underway and include the reallocation of staff to registered instructional programs, the use of overtime and the placement of newly-hired staff where possible. It is important to note that the cancellation of a class does not indicate that the class’s instructor has not been vaccinated, as staff are being reallocated to different locations and programs in an effort to minimize these service impacts.
The City’s vaccination mandate policy is about protecting worker health and safety, as well as the public the City serves. Staff are being reassigned to ensure all health and safety protocols are maintained, including child care ratios, lifeguards and cleaning protocols. Staff are prioritizing after-school programs for children and can confirm the City’s After-School Recreation Care program (ARC) will not be affected.
Affected programs may include fitness classes, swim lessons, sports, dance, art and general interest.
The City will be directly contacting anyone affected by a class cancellation and registrants will receive credits on their accounts for the missed class.
The City is also ramping up hiring efforts as part of its mitigation strategy for programs currently running and to ensure staffing is in place for winter recreation programming. The fall session is underway with five weeks remaining for most programs.
As the City continues the implementation of its vaccine policy, it does not anticipate impacts to critical and priority services. Emergency response by Toronto Police, Toronto Fire Services or Toronto Paramedic Services will not be impacted as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination policy.
As the largest employer in Toronto, the City has taken a leadership role in making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for its workforce and is meeting its obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable to protect employees from workplace hazards, including COVID-19.
The City will continue to comply with its human rights obligations. Staff who are not able to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine under a protected ground set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code, will be entitled to accommodation.
The City’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy is available on the COVID-19: Mandatory Vaccination Policy webpage.
“Our staff are working to address any impacts to programming and working in real time to implement mitigation efforts with the goal of continuing to offer as many of our fall programs as possible. I strongly encourage everyone to receive a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect our community and each other.”
– Chris Murray, City Manager
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