Kitchener, Waterloo Region considering COVID-19 mandates for employees

On Thursday, the city of Toronto announced that it will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the coming days. While a similar move is not imminent in the Kitchener and Waterloo area, communities could take this route in the coming weeks.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic told Global News that employees have been considering the idea for a while, but the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape has made it difficult to develop a policy.

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“This is a very lively topic that we have been talking about and seeing as it happen in the federal, state, local and private sectors over the past few weeks,” he said.

“It’s also something that literally changes every hour.”

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On Friday, the Ontario Hockey League announced that all spectators and other participants participating in training and games must follow their COVID-19 protocols.

Since the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers play from the city-run Aud, Vrbanovic pointed this out as an example of the rapid changes that the Kitchener also have to adapt.

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“There are a number of areas where we have no clarity about what this means for you as a tenant because you are talking about viewers and other visitors,” he explained. “Who do you consider the other participant?”

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Vrbanovic says the city is in talks with other municipalities in the region and could issue a policy within the next few weeks.

A spokesman for the Waterloo area, which controls the Grand River Transit, told Global News that a policy was also being developed.

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“Employees are currently working on a vaccine policy framework for employees in the Waterloo area, including Grand River Transit employees,” said Stuart Gooden in an email.

“An update is expected to be presented to the regional council in September.”

Vrbanovic said the city had several considerations to weigh, including health and safety and constitutional freedoms, and believes it would be helpful if the province came up with some clear guidelines.

“There are 444 parishes in Ontario and the best that can happen is for the province to say this is required and these are the circumstances in which it would apply, and you don’t have 444 parishes trying to do this on their own to find out, ”he said.

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