WARMINGTON: The ladder comes out from under unvaccinated firefighters Monday

The big question is how these firings could affect public safety

Article content

Toronto Fire Services’ deputy chief has given a “final” warning to firefighters to show vaccination proof by Monday or be suspended without pay and face eventual dismissal.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“We are working on setting up meetings starting Nov. 1 for staff who have not provided proof of both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine,” wrote Deputy Fire Chief Debbie Higgins in an Oct. 25 memo. “If both doses have not been received, staff will be suspended for up to six weeks without pay.”

While under suspension, staff members who “provide proof of full vaccination” can come back to work but after “Dec. 13, if staff members do not provide proof they have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, their employment will be terminated for cause as they will have chosen not to comply with the mandatory vaccination policy.”

The ultimatum is clear.

So far, Toronto Fire has not indicated how many staff are on the firing line. Higgins thanked “the majority” who have “completed” disclosure but said there are “several TFS staff who have not yet” met the deadline which “has now passed.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

While Toronto Fire or the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association has not yet commented, City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross explained the actual number will be public “next week.” Saying “being vaccinated against COVID-19” is “a condition of employment,” Ross added the city “will provide data on the number of employees, by division, who have complied with the policy, as well as those who have not.”

As Monday looms, the city “continues to see an increasing number of employees coming into compliance,” Ross said, noting, “97% of all staff have disclosed their vaccine status, 90% are fully vaccinated.”

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Similar drama is playing out in other jurisdictions. Premier Doug Ford has asked for an assessment of how many health-care workers could be in violation before moving forward on dismissal and Education Minister Stephen Lecce said up to 50,000 could face firing inside the system he oversees.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The big question is how these firings could affect public safety.

“The city, including Toronto Fire, will have plans in place so the public is unaffected and remains safe if some employees are suspended for noncompliance with this policy,” said Ross. “At no time will emergency services be hindered.”

But the stress on those facing the end of their jobs is significant. Some holdouts who have received life-saving awards and are accustomed to public admiration are not handling now being shunned well. That said, despite the pressure to get vaccinated, some are holding firm to their convictions — which could cost them their livelihoods. Perhaps since this is such a unique situation, all employers with such deadlines should postpone the extreme move of ending employment to, instead, pursue other solutions from testing to reassignment to working from home?  

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

  1. The Toronto District School Board head office located at 5050 Yonge St. in North York.

    TDSB extends deadline for staff COVID-19 vaccination policy

  2. Conservative Party Leader Erin O'Toole speaks at a news conference in Belleville, Ont., Aug. 9, 2021.

    O’Toole faces caucus as he plots out next steps on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations

  3. Matthew and Laura Ward, seen here on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, were fired from their jobs at London Health Sciences Centre because they have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. He was a carpenter in facilities management; she worked in housekeeping. They met on the job 16 years ago and have three children. (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

    ‘IT’S VERY UNETHICAL’: Fired London, Ont. health workers speak out amid vaccine push

  4. File: Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce

    50,000 Ontario school staff could be ‘terminated’ if vaccination made mandatory: Lecce

This line-in-the-sand approach is being done with such haste when you consider vaccines are just nine months in play. For something so new thrust into the system to end careers seems too harsh. Since COVID-19 numbers don’t justify such extreme actions, perhaps more thought should be applied to this? From a human compassion perspective, these are people and no medical scenario makes them less equal.

Ross indicates “the mental” health of “the Toronto Public Service is of critical importance to the city” and Chief Matthew Pegg “is a strong advocate and leader of mental health wellness and awareness.” In addition to the Employee Assistance Program “the city has created numerous online resources for employees to help them stay mentally healthy” which “employees who are suspended will continue to have access to.”

The countdown to them being cut loose completely, however, starts Monday.

jwarmington@postmedia.com

    Advertisement

    Story continues below

    Comments

    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Share:

    Share on facebook
    Facebook
    Share on twitter
    Twitter
    Share on pinterest
    Pinterest
    Share on linkedin
    LinkedIn
    On Key

    Related Posts

    On AIR

    Russtrat world