Toronto Police Service (TPS) says it will be reinstating unvaccinated employees, who were put on unpaid leave for not receiving COVID-19 shots, effective June 21.
“The Service’s decision to rescind its COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Requirement was made in response to the current public health and occupational health context of the pandemic and the unique nature of its work and workplaces,” Allison Sparks, director of corporate communications for TPS, told The Epoch Times.
Sparks said in the June 2 emailed statement that future TPS hires will still need to be fully vaccinated.
“The Service continues to ensure that our workplaces remain safe which includes continued COVID-19 measures as appropriate,” Sparks said.
TPS is the fourth-largest municipal police force in North America, with 5,500 officers and 2,200 civilian support staff.
Sparks said the vaccination rate in the organization is 99 percent and that 101 employees are currently on unpaid leave. TPS didn’t respond to a question on the number of employees who resigned due to the mandate.
TPS had announced in November that it was placing 205 of its members on unpaid leave, including 117 police officers and 88 civilian employees, as its vaccine mandate was coming into effect.
“Officers will be deployed as operationally required by the Service and civilian members will return to their original roles,” Sparks said.
The Toronto Police Association was contacted for comment but didn't respond by publication time.
The move was welcomed by some advocacy groups calling for vaccine choice and civil liberties, including Mounties for Freedom. The group was formed by RCMP officers in part to “stand united against the forced and coerced medical intervention of Canadians" and against the "discrimination" faced by those who chose not to be vaccinated.
Daniel Bulford, a spokesperson for the group and former RCMP sniper who was involved in the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa this winter, applauded the move by TPS to reinstate employees but said they shouldn't have been let go in the first place.
"I'm glad to see TPS members being invited back to work. I hope that the atmosphere is welcoming for them," he said, adding he hoped their colleagues would acknowledge the impact the mandates had on the returning employees.
"If police agencies would've made an evidence-based decision and stood their ground on behalf of these officers and the greater public, mandates would have been defeated and Canada would be united in freedom again."
Clay Farnsworth, chair of Police on Guard, a group composed of active and retired officers opposed to use of emergency powers by governments during the pandemic, said his group “vehemently opposed" the vaccine mandates implemented across Canada.
“[The mandates] were not backed by any credible scientific data and were an affront to our democracy and Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Farnsworth told The Epoch Times.
Farnsworth says the group stands by the officers that have lost their jobs and is calling for financial compensation for lost wages.
The RCMP has imposed a vaccine mandate on its workforce, whereas the Ontario Provincial Police did not, allowing its employees the alternative of testing regularly. This was in line with the Ontario Public Service policy that was dropped in early April.