TORONTO — Up to 50,000 education workers in Ontario could be fired if COVID-19 vaccines were mandated for that sector, the province's education minister said Tuesday.
Responding to the NDP in question period, Stephen Lecce said such a policy would mean pink slips for tens of thousands of educators when Ontario already faces staffing challenges.
"I think we have to be coupled by realism and ensure that any staff member who enters our school has a double test, a negative antigen test, to ensure they are safe, to ensure our schools could be staffed, and these kids can continue to go to school every day," he said.
A spokeswoman for Lecce said unvaccinated staff have to test negative twice a week.
"We expect absolute compliance with our directive, approved by the chief medical officer of health, or else those staff are not to enter Ontario schools," Caitlin Clark said in a statement.
The 50,000 figure includes education workers such as teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators, principals, board staff, occasional staff and custodians, who are unvaccinated or won't disclose their status.
More than 85 per cent of education staff are fully vaccinated, while the remaining approximately 15 per cent have attested to not being fully vaccinated, including having medical exemptions, or haven't said either way.
Some school boards, such as the Toronto District School Board, have enacted tougher policies that include possible termination.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2021.
The Canadian Press