Burlington city manager answers questions about staff’s vaccination compliance

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Published November 4, 2021 at 1:59 pm

Following the release of the City of Burlington’s workforce vaccination results yesterday, City Manager Tim Commisso answered a few of the followup questions insauga.com had.

Q: At 88 per cent, the vaccination rates seem low for a large employer. For comparison sake, both school boards are well over 90 per cent. What do you think the reason for this is?

A: First I do not know how the school boards are reporting their numbers, or whether they offer a Rapid Antigen Testing program similar to the City.

Some employers are reporting based on a percentage of those who have submitted documentation versus their total workforce. We also chose to report the percentage of our total workforce.

However, if you look at the percentage of staff who are vaccinated in comparison to those who have reported, that number goes to 90 per cent. I feel that the total workforce number is a better indicator.

Overall, I am pleased with our overall percentage but acknowledge we will continue to work to increase it further.

Q: What are you doing to increase the numbers?

A: There is still additional work to do to collect outstanding vaccination statuses. Our human resources team is leading that work. That work includes progressive disciplinary measures where warranted.

However, as I mentioned, the City in implementing its policy did introduce a rapid testing program until Nov. 26. We continue to share the message that the best way for staff to protect themselves and others is to get vaccinated.

One of the best ways we get this message out is through staff town halls. Since the start of the pandemic to date, we have had 10 all-staff town halls with another one scheduled for Nov. 17.

Q: Do you think once the city stops arranging for, and paying for, rapid antigen testing, the numbers might go up?

A: That is hard to say but my assumption is yes it will increase. Once the City stops paying for the tests on Nov 26, those who are unvaccinated still have to meet the testing requirements. But I know our staff will continue to do the right thing to protect themselves and others, whether it is mandated or not.

Q: What’s your overall opinion of the success of the city’s vaccine mandate?

A: The 88 per cent of our total workforce that has been vaccinated is in line with provincial and Region of Halton numbers, but we know we still have work to do to bring that number up. I do want to thank our staff that have stepped up and followed the policy.

Overall however, I am very pleased to say that this fall we have had very few incidents of COVID-19 reported in our City facilities, be it staff or members of the public using the facility.

I mention this because our No. 1 goal since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 has been to protect the public and City staff and whatever we can to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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