POP VACCINES: Staff Concerns Contributed to PAHO’s Decision Not to Require Vaccines, Says Senior Member

Ottawa Police Service policy complies with provincial guidelines and is in line with most other Ontario police forces.

Article content

The risk of losing unvaccinated personnel influenced the Ottawa Police Service’s decision not to require COVID-19 vaccines, a senior PAHO member said Wednesday.


Article content

Ottawa Police have not required vaccinations for members and instead have implemented a testing policy whereby unvaccinated members will be required to undergo rapid COVID-19 testing every 72 hours.

“We have heard of services like Toronto that have had problems. We’ve seen some of the feedback they’ve had and we’ve had to look at our resource constraints here in Ottawa, ”Acting Deputy Chief Trish Ferguson said Wednesday.

“We want to make sure that we are not going to put ourselves in a situation where we cannot provide effective and adequate surveillance for the community, so we have had to balance that with keeping the community safe and keeping our members safe. . “

The Toronto Police Service has ordered vaccinations for its members. Those who are not fully vaccinated or who have not disclosed their vaccination status by November 30 will be placed on an “indefinite absence without pay.”


Article content

Toronto police’s vaccination rate is much higher than Ottawa’s: 90 percent of Toronto police personnel have disclosed their status so far, the force said, with 94 percent of them fully vaccinated and 97 percent with one dose. The Ottawa police vaccination rate is approaching 84 percent, Ferguson said, with an undetermined number whose status has yet to be released.

However, PAHO faces criticism from the city council. Mayor Jim Watson was stunned by the Ottawa Police Service’s decision not to require that staff get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I don’t support what the Ottawa police have done,” Watson said during a news conference after Wednesday’s city council meeting, noting that the police service was a separate organization with its own board.


Article content

“I think we all have to practice what we preach. We are telling people to get vaccinated twice or risk losing their jobs here in the city of Ottawa. It is not a frivolous thing that we are engaged in. It is serious business. The police come into contact with literally dozens of people every day, and for the life of me I can’t understand why they wouldn’t follow the same rules as other public servants in Ottawa and, frankly, across the country. “

Watson said he hoped the police force could change their mind and go back to “what should be standard practice, particularly in the public sector, that if you get a public check, you have to get vaccinated twice.”

During the council meeting, Coun. Diane Deans, chairwoman of the police services board, invited her colleagues to hear a response to a query on police vaccination policy at a future board meeting.


Article content

The deans later posted a message on Twitter saying she believed “100 percent of officers should be vaccinated,” but the police board cannot issue that directive under Ontario law. It must come from Chief Peter Sloly, Deans said.

Coun. Keith Egli, chairman of the Ottawa Public Health board, said the health unit did not recommend the policy to the police force and asked the police force to review its decision.

The Ottawa municipal government has a November 1 deadline for its workforce to be fully vaccinated.

City Manager Steve Kanellakos said the municipal public service was moving toward 90 percent of being fully vaccinated by the deadline.

Ferguson, however, noted that OPS policy met provincial guidelines and was in line with most other Ontario police forces.

“Obviously our goal here is to have 100 percent of our staff (vaccinated), minus those who are medically exempt from receiving a vaccine,” he said. “We know it is the safest way to do it.”

With files from Jon Willing



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to moderate before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a response to your comment, there is an update from a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.


Leave a Comment