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City vaccination policy carries implications for the municipal election in Sudbury

The City of Greater Sudbury’s vaccination policy stands, which means those candidates elected during the Oct. 24 civic election will either need to be vaccinated or have an approved vaccine exemption

The COVID-19 vaccination status of candidates running in this year’s municipal election remains relevant, as the city’s vaccination policy remains in place and applies to members of city council.

The policy, which was announced in September 2021 and came into play two months later, requires that all city staff and council members be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

“The vaccination policy does allow for an employee to apply for an exemption if they have a bona fide human-rights based reason for not being able to be vaccinated,” a city spokesperson clarified to by emailed correspondence this week. 

“This policy applies to all (city) employees including full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, casual, volunteer firefighters, and students, and is regardless of an employee’s work from home status. It also applies to members of council. New employees will also be subject to this policy as a condition of their employment with (the city).”

As of this week, 46 city employees' employment had been terminated as a result of failing to meet the requirements of the city's vaccine policy. There are an additional three employees on unpaid leave of absence who are in the process of either seeking an exemption or awaiting an additional dose. 

"Absence without leave is time limited in our contracts and employment agreements, and exceeding that time limit results in termination of employment," a city spokesperson clarified in emailed correspondence.

To date, one city employee has been granted a human rights-based exemption.*

In November 2021 they reported that one religious exemption had been granted, and as of March there were 34 employees facing termination for declining to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, various organizations, including the province, have dropped vaccine policies in recent weeks. Ontario lifted the bulk of its vaccine mandates on March 1.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have made decisions that are rooted in the health and safety of our employees and the public we serve,” the city wrote in emailed correspondence. “Public health experts continue to stress that vaccination remains one of the best ways to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on individuals, communities and the health-care system.”

As of Friday, there were 1,662 COVID-positive patients hospitalized in Ontario, including 210 patients in intensive care units and 99 on ventilators. The unvaccinated remain at a statistically greater likelihood of ending up in intensive care units. 

“I think that people look to their leaders in the community,” Mayor Brian Bigger told “We do set an example for others. COVID-19 is certainly not over, so I definitely feel that it’s important for us to set a strong example for people in our community.”

With the potential for new variants of COVID-19 to to usher in future waves of the virus, Bigger said we’re not out of the woods yet.

“I think it’s really just the only way that we can end COVID-19, is that the majority of people are vaccinated,” he said. 

“It really is the prudent thing to do. … I know people value their free choice, but free choice based on science and the evidence across the entire world is pretty compelling.”

There is a segment of the population that has argued against vaccine mandates such as those still in place by the city.

Hundreds of people gathered locally to cheer on the anti-mandate Freedom Convoy of truckers during their trip to Ottawa in late January, some of whom have continued with sporadic protests since that time. A slow-roll protest is scheduled to make its way through Sudbury this weekend.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for

* Edit: The city's latest data on employment terminations and exemptions was added after this story was originally published.


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
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