Image copyright AFP Image caption The city said that the suspension would affect 248 employees
More than 140 park employees were suspended without pay because they did not have the required vaccinations, the Toronto Star has reported.
A police officer was fired, the mayor has been instructed not to make any appointments for vaccinations, and 28 members of the public were also put on suspensions for not having the vaccines, according to a statement from the city.
Toronto has a vaccination rate for “H1N1” children that is one of the lowest in the world.
The problem is a lack of vaccinations for people in certain positions including park attendants and healthcare workers, and has been happening for more than a decade.
Vaccines were created by the Calgary Hospital Research Foundation to protect adults against several strains of flu in the 1970s.
In 1990, a similar facility called Canadian Vaccine Research for Adults (CVRA) was created. Both efforts were run by the NHS.
This list includes civilians, public health nurses, volunteer physicians, and medical and healthcare professionals. Public health assistants are currently enrolled in the Canadian Institute for Vaccinology and vaccine development, but do not have access to the same strains as the CVRA.
The city announced that 27 other employees had exemptions from vaccines, that it had “intervened” by suspending them without pay.
It also said that the city “did not suspend workers with employer-provided health and dental benefits”, but some did receive suspensions.
The city responded to concerns about the suspension with a statement, saying that the issue was “not one of protecting medical professionals” and that it was an “easy, expedient way” to correct the problem.
“The information goes to answer those questions that we get about why we have so many workers [unvaccinated] in the parks,” Councillor John Parker told the Star.
“This is not just getting these people, who are our most vulnerable citizens, to get their shot,” Councillor Parker added.
“It is essentially saying to them: ‘Our default position is no care.”
According to a spokesperson for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, 14% of medically eligible adults have not received a flu shot in Toronto.
The Toronto city council has said that it will take up the issue during its next meeting on Tuesday, and add health care personnel in the city’s general population to the list of those required to be vaccinated.
These measures will also need to be put in place within the next couple of months to encourage residents to begin vaccinations, Councillor Parker added.