TORONTO — Canadian companies in federally regulated industries are starting to announce mandatory vaccination policies, in a bid to protect staff and abide by a recent government request.
The country's largest banks said this week that they will require employees working in their offices to be fully vaccinated.
Their policies come a week after Ottawa asked federally regulated industries, including banks, telecoms and airlines, to start implementing mandates requiring workers to get vaccinated because COVID-19 cases in Canada are climbing again and vaccinations have slowed from their pace earlier this year.
TD said Friday its policy will ask staff to register their vaccination status with the bank by Sept. 30 and require full vaccination for all workers entering offices on or after Nov. 1.
Those who are not fully vaccinated or do not disclose their vaccination status must complete a learning module about the benefits of vaccination, submit to mandatory COVID-19 rapid testing and wear a mask whenever they are in TD offices.
"This is the right thing to do to protect the health and safety of everyone who is working in TD locations, and we are encouraged that many other organizations have taken similar measures," Kenn Lalonde, TD's senior executive vice-president and chief human resources officer, said in a Friday memo announcing the policy.
RBC sent a similar memo Thursday, asking employees to confirm their vaccination status, beginning in Canada and the United States, followed by other regions where applicable.
Those working for the bank who are able to be vaccinated will be required to do so by Oct. 31, RBC said in the note to staff.
RBC chief executive Dave McKay said in a LinkedIn post Friday that nothing is more important than the health and well-being of RBC's clients, colleagues and communities.
"We believe vaccines are the best way to keep our workplaces safe and help our communities reduce the spread of COVID-19 variants such as Delta," McKay said.
CIBC set an Oct. 31 deadline for its Canadian and U.S. employees to be vaccinated and told staff "if you haven’t yet been vaccinated and are able, now is the time."
"We know this raises a number of questions based on your personal circumstances," said Sandy Sharman, the bank's senior executive vice-president and group head of people culture and brand.
"While we don’t have all the answers today, we are working out the details now and will share more information with you as quickly as we can."
BMO, which will also use an Oct. 31 deadline, said its policy will apply to all North American employees and contractors eligible for vaccination.
Those who remain unvaccinated after that date will be required to complete twice-a-week COVID-19 testing and comply with alternative health and safety measures to enter a BMO location. The bank did not specify what the alternative measures would entail.
Scotiabank told staff Friday that it is moving in the direction of making vaccinations mandatory for all Canadian-based employees and contractors later in the fall.
Employees were told they will soon receive a link to a mandatory and confidential survey asking them to provide their vaccination status. The survey will allow employees to decline disclosing their vaccination status, but the bank did not say how it will handle staff that refuse to disclose their status or be vaccinated.
The mandates at the banks follow Sun Life Financial Inc., Shopify Inc., the City of Toronto, the Toronto Transit Commission and several universities and health care facilities throughout Canada, which requested staff be vaccinated over the last two weeks.
A poll released Thursday showed a majority of Canadians support a system that would require proof of vaccination to access some non-essential services.
Seventy-six per cent of respondents in the survey conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would strongly or somewhat support a vaccine passport like the one Quebec is implementing.
Quebec's passport will apply in places such as bars, concerts and festivals where there are many people in a confined space.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:TD, TSX:RY, TSX:BMO, TSX:CM, TSX:SLF, TSX: SHOP)
Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press