Toronto: Officials leave city after flu vaccine refusal

Image copyright CBC Image caption None of the employees had seen their children vaccinated for severe or uncomplicated flu, according to their bosses

Workers in Toronto are on paid leave for nine days without pay over their non-compliance with mandatory flu vaccinations.

It is estimated at least four city officials had unvaccinated children at their home and consequently their jobs were threatened.

According to CBC News, none of the employees had seen their children vaccinated for severe or uncomplicated flu, which is required for their jobs.

The mayor of Toronto, John Tory, said in a statement: “The mayor is fully supportive of vaccinations.”

Photo: 123RF

Four of the public officials involved in a 3 May episode on Global News have opted to have their jobs back.

Three others, including the head of Toronto’s health services, resigned.

Toronto Health Services CEO Dr. Eileen de Villa said she “remained unsatisfied with the standard of compliance with his overall vaccination protocol by those in his ministerial chain of command”.

According to the Toronto Star, the decision was made on Thursday “in consultation with Mayor Tory”, who confirmed the sacking of Dr. de Villa.

Dr. de Villa has been replaced by Dr. Olivia Chow, a former federal Liberal MP, and John Labrosse, a staffer for the city’s transportation commissioner, are taking over as interim chief medical officer of health.

The lengthy suspensions come as a set of infectious diseases outbreaks have gripped the country’s largest city, with 276 cases of influenza reported.

Photo: 123RF

Dr. Chow said that among the four city officials suspended without pay is a senior parks and recreation manager, “who lost both his family health care and his job”.

Mayor Tory and Dr. Chow have urged all city workers to ensure they are up to date with vaccinations.

In Canada, all federal, provincial and municipal employees must be vaccinated against influenza, regardless of the risk to them or the public.

Vaccination rates are lower than in the UK, but the country has a safe vaccine. According to Public Health England, 90% of adult Canadians are protected by the flu vaccine, compared to 82% in the UK.

But current flu outbreaks have put the UK in its third flu season of the year.

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