WARMINGTON: Unvaccinated Toronto cops feeling scrooged by held back “lieu” pay

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Some Toronto Police officers on unpaid leave say they feel like characters in a 2021 version of the Grinch after having had not only their Christmas stolen but also cash that is owed to them.

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T’was the night before Christmas and all through their house, there’s no money to pay the rent, provide Christmas dinner or put presents under the tree for their kids. But Toronto Police officers who are on unpaid leave for not complying with the service’s vaccine mandate are not getting much sympathy.

Or prompt payment of cash owed to them either.

“Yes, they will paid,” assures Toronto Police spokesperson Connie Osborne. “But not this month.”

In other words, not in time for Christmas. Bah Humbug! Move over Charles Dickens.

For officers with no income right now it’s soul crushing. For some, it’s up to $3,000 they thought they had coming to them.

“I was counting on getting that money,” said one officers. “It’s badly needed.”

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The money in question is “cashable lieu time” accumulated from overtime, attending court while off duty and callbacks.

The officers who are not getting paid because of refusing to provide their vaccine status were counting on this cash to help them get by during this tough period for them.

“We are always paid out at this time of year,” said another officer.

But this is not a normal year and there’s lots of pressure on officers to fall in line with the vaccination program. Suspending their paycheques is part of that pressure.

Originally there were 205 members who would not comply, but it’s now down to 160 with many opting to go the Johnson & Johnson vaccination route that has now been made available to them.

There are still holdouts, however, who feel their bodily autonomy outranks any mandate for a vaccine that is not proving to be 100% effective at preventing spread amongst the vaccinated, including their own “fully vaccinated” Chief, who is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, and dozens of double-vaccinated peers in several divisions.

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The Toronto Police Association said it is negotiating with the Toronto Police Service to try to get this money paid to the officers with no income as soon as possible. But the service does not seem to be in a hurry.

“Members who opted not to disclose their status or get vaccinated were placed on unpaid absence” and “were informed in advance that there would be a delay in lieu time payout,” said Osborne.  

While it seems mean-spirited and cruel not to give the officers their own money to save their Christmas, Toronto Police say it’s not at all what it seems.

“This is solely due to administration complexities of using a manual system and timing, including it being year-end,” said Osborne. “There are about 110 officers who are in this category.”

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A spokesperson from the mayor’s office reiterated that John Tory supported Chief James Ramer’s implementation of the vaccine mandate “to help protect every member of the police service, their families and the public who interact with officers.”

“The Mayor has followed up on this issue with the Chief directly,” Lawvin Hadisi said. “The Mayor knows the Chief is on top of this and working to address it.

In a city that would never do such a thing to the homeless, there’s still time to find some spirit on the eve of Christmas.

Even Ebenezer Scrooge offered a shilling in the end.

jwarmington@postmedia.com

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