Toronto’s human resources office is one of the highest vaccinated organizations in the city, receiving a high grade from city council for its work in improving the vaccination record of city employees.
The staff performance evaluation committee presented its conclusions on the staff report on the city’s Vaccine Coverage Plan to the city council’s general meeting Monday.
According to the report, the city’s top score for vaccination comes from the Toronto human resources department, which had the highest vaccination rate of the 172 city departments surveyed: 88 per cent of its employees are fully vaccinated.
Many of the best performing departments include transit and environment, which have the second and third highest vaccination rates of Toronto city departments. The police department, the fire department and the environmental protection department are also members of the upper echelon of vaccination scorers.
“The all-volunteer fire department has made great progress in recent years, reducing the rate of unvaccinated firefighters from one in 10 in 2009 to one in 50 today,” the report reads.
In total, nearly 700,000 out of the 1.3 million city employees are vaccinated, including 13.5 per cent of municipal police officers.
The city’s improvement in vaccination rates have come in the form of continued education and revision of procedures and requirements, as well as the implementation of staff and community engagement events.
The average staff vaccination rate has increased by 22 percentage points from 36 per cent in 2015 to 69 per cent in 2017. Toronto’s vaccination rate has reached the highest ever level for the city of 25 per cent.
On top of its low vaccination rate, Canada Border Services Agency had some of the lowest vaccination rates.
According to the Human Resources report, almost half of the CBSA’s staff are not fully vaccinated, including 40 per cent of permanent federal officers and 58 per cent of CBSA’s minimum wage workers.
“This figure is of particular concern and is a direct reflection of the CBSA’s own administrative, training and resource constraints,” the report reads.
The other most ill-prepared departments by vaccine rate were parks and recreation and food services. Overall, Toronto city staff are less vaccinated than Canadians overall, because of lower income, income inequality and health insurance coverage.
Cities have had many challenges getting staff vaccinated, including the fact that municipal employees are both more likely and more likely to have kids than Canadians overall. (Employees at least 65 and at least five years of age account for 44 per cent of city employees, compared to the national average of 33 per cent.)
Another source of frustration for the city is its lack of agency jurisdiction in vaccine decisions.
Council voted on Monday to overhaul Toronto’s vaccine policy, which can only be passed by general council, to a policy that can be implemented by councillors. The city council’s general meeting also voted to publish its updated vaccination requirements online, and to require employees to receive measles, mumps and rubella vaccine against the recommendation of the Canadian Medical Association.
Dorothy Davidson, who represents the Etobicoke ward where the city is located, was the only city councillor to vote against the policy.
“I’m deeply disappointed by the seven-year leadership of Mayor John Tory and the five consecutive years of internecine battles within council’s general meeting,” Davidson said in a statement. “I thank my fellow councillors for their leadership.”