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Surprise! Ontario employers scrambling to meet new mandatory vax policy requirements.

By: Jennifer Mathers McHenry

The ground has shifted dramatically – albeit quietly – for employers in Ontario once again.  On August 24 the Ontario government, without fanfare, issued new regulation O.Reg 577/21 under the under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, c. 17. The new regulation requires all Ontario employers to comply with recommendations and instructions from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer (“CMO”) or the Medical Officer of Health after consultation with the CMO’s office where they require the business to establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy.  The text of the regulation can be found here:  https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r21577.

This is a huge change for Ontario employers, and especially so in Toronto where the Medical Officer of Health had already recommended that employers institute a workplace vaccination policy. (See details of her current recommendations here: COVID-19: Vaccine Information for Employers – City of Toronto).

This means that as soon as the Ontario government implemented O.Reg 577/21 employers in Toronto were required to have a vaccine policy in place.  We have little  doubt other jurisdictions will follow.  Toronto employers must now scramble to comply.  Other Ontario employers should take the opportunity to get ready.

A good vaccination policy must be designed to meet Occupational Health and Safety requirements, as well as evolving public health guidance, and – despite the rush created by the way in which these changes were rolled out – should be implemented  thoughtfully.  Additionally, the policy and implementation thereof must take into account valid human rights considerations and provide for accommodation in appropriate circumstances.

If you have questions about what this means for your workplace or business, the MMc&Co team is available to help.

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