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Fewer than 1,300 city employees face suspension from their positions, Toronto’s health care agencies have told a court.
“We have gone far beyond the day-to-day work of just enforcing the rules and regulations,” Toronto’s lawyer Brendan Crawley said, summing up for the city in a hearing, which begins next week.
This week the court heard lawyers for the city of Toronto and seven health boards and networks have said there are currently fewer than 1,300 employees facing penalties.
Last September, Toronto’s health care board said 1,756 staff had non-compliance notices from the city.
The 25-year-old city has “gone to extraordinary lengths” to comply with the vaccine rule, Mr Crawley said.
During the testimony on Wednesday, court heard that the Toronto health unit had to order more than a million doses of vaccine and completely renegotiate its contracts with contracted suppliers of vaccines to supply the city.
“As recently as last month, the city had to re-approve the contracts with suppliers over and over,” Mr Crawley said.
The day before being called to testify, last month, Mr Crawley had said: “We didn’t necessarily deliberately make a mistake with the vaccination contract, but we regret it now.”
‘Putting lives at risk’
Public Health Ontario (PHO), which oversees Toronto’s health care agencies, had recommended making the suspension orders in September, partly due to the changes to the rules.
“The logistical difficulty posed by these new requirements has become dire and irreconcilable,” Mr Crawley said on Wednesday.
“It is inconceivable that any supervisor or manager involved in this would deliberately put the life of a child or adult at risk. Yet their reaction is to suspend employees without pay.”
“You can’t suspend people under these circumstances,” he added.
Mr Crawley told the court that although a company can be fired for non-compliance, it is the right of an employer to remain an employer if they are willing to make “persistent efforts” to comply with the vaccination requirements.
Toronto council’s council banned schools from receiving children who are not immunised. The rule was set to come into effect on 1 October, but was delayed.