County to require all employees to disclose vaccination status

If not vaccinated by Oct. 23 staff members must submit to rapid antigen testing - possibly at their own cost

WELLINGTON COUNTY – All county employees will be required to disclose their vaccination status and those who are not fully vaccinated will be required to submit to regular rapid testing for COVID-19 under a new policy that comes into effect on Sept. 22.

In August, the county introduced a mandatory vaccination requirement for all new employees in all departments.

COVID-19 vaccinations are a fundamental condition of new and ongoing employment for these individuals and will remain in place for the foreseeable future, county officials stated at the time.

A Sept. 9 press release states the county has been working closely with employment lawyers to “develop fair provisions and protocols” that are in alignment with provincial directives and subject to limited exceptions in accordance with the Human Rights Code (Ontario).

Under the new policy, all County of Wellington employees must disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status by Sept. 22.

Beginning Oct.23, employees who are not fully vaccinated will need to be rapid tested regularly for COVID-19.

The release notes the county may require employees to pay for each rapid antigen test, “subject to any applicable laws and reasonable practices.”

Under the policy, “legitimate medical exemptions will be accommodated” with each case to be considered on its own facts, in accordance with any applicable legal obligations under the Human Rights Code.

“Public Health data shows that the Delta variant poses a significant risk to those who are unvaccinated, including children under the age of 12,” said Warden Kelly Linton.

“With the rising cases of COVID-19 in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and across the province, the county has decided that we must do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our employees and the public we proudly serve.”

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer, CEO of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, stated, “Vaccinations are the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect people from the effects of the virus.

“I encourage everyone who can to get a first and second shot as soon as possible.

“I applaud Wellington County for taking this significant step to protect their employees and those who live in the county, particularly our children who are not yet eligible for a vaccine.”

The county press release notes the upper-tier municipality “considers vaccinations to be fundamental to the protection of our employees and the general public, and to be consistent with the best available public health advice for prevention of the spread of COVID and variants.”