“Our Members Are … Relieved”: Western School, TA Unions Reply to COVID-19 Vaccination Plan – London


Unions representing faculties, teaching assistants and postdocs at Western University commend the institution’s decision to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination on campus this fall.

The university announced the move on Wednesday, saying it would require proof of identification from students, staff and faculty at Western and its affiliated colleges, with exceptions under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Those who don’t have a vaccination certificate have to get tested twice a week to be on campus, the university says.

Vaccinations will also be required for students in work and clinical internships, in music programs, and for student athletes, coaches and team members, school officials say.

The news comes months after the university ordered that students living in their dormitory be vaccinated, and three weeks after the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) asked Western to issue a vaccination mandate.

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“Our members are … (the) word number one, I have to say, is relieved,” said Nigmendra Narain, the union’s president, in an interview on Thursday. UWOFA represents around 1,500 Western faculties along with 50 librarians and archivists.

“We heard that many of our members spoke very clearly about what they had to do with their own family situation, caring for older parents, and so on. The overwhelming majority were looking for such a guideline so that they could safely walk into the classroom. “

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Western University requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination on campus

Narain said UWOFA members have been asking the university in recent weeks to make vaccination compulsory “by emailing their deans and chairs … telling their personal stories, talking about their families, and raising concerns”.

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Debate on the possibility of mandatory vaccines continues

Debate on the possibility of mandatory vaccines continues – August 7, 2021

Pressure also came from members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Local 610. The union, which represents more than 2,000 graduate teaching assistants and postdocs at Western, joined the UWOFA in calling for vaccination.

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“Our membership feels really good. Talk to a lot of our executives and you’ll get a lot of whoo-hoos … They’re very excited because we’ve had this for weeks and we’re really glad that Western is stepping up, ”said Wes Robinson, president the PSAC Local 610.

Meetings between union members during the pandemic routinely came back on an issue, he says. “What guidelines will be introduced in September to really protect us?”

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“Western was too early to say, ‘We’re going back to face-to-face learning.’ There was a lot of worry, a lot of worry, and it was brought up over and over again, so we knew we had to push westerns into it. “

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A survey of students, faculty, and staff earlier this month found that nearly 90 percent of those polled were fully vaccinated, according to the university. Of the remaining 10 percent or so, more than half planned to get vaccinated by September.

It is not yet clear how Western will enforce the requirement and how the vaccinated will be asked to provide evidence of their vaccination status.

“We have not yet received any notification from the administration what this will look like. We will work to find out these facts, to get this information, ”Narain said.

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“The important thing here is that we are now at a stage where we can begin to see what this would look like and make our contribution accordingly,” he added.

“Now we have to work out the details and we are going to reach out to the administration to start making these things public.”

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Vaccination Policy for U of T Students Returning to Campus

Vaccination Policy for U of T Students Returning to Campus

The Middlesex-London Health Unit and Dr. Chris Mackie, the area’s health officer, have advocated compulsory vaccination for Westerns, citing the high number of cases and outbreaks that university students have been involved in over the past school year. At least eight outbreaks were reported in western homes between late March and mid-May, associated with nearly 200 cases.

“High vaccine intake in Middlesex-London, including in post-secondary communities, will be critical to ensuring a safe and healthy autumn,” Mackie wrote in a letter to Western President Alan Shepard Monday.

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Other post-secondary institutions in Ontario have unveiled similar vaccination schedules, including the University of Toronto, Ontario Tech University, and Seneca College. The Ontario Council of Universities and Colleges has also urged Queen’s Park to mandate vaccination for post-secondary students, faculties, and staff across the province.

The calls come amid growing concerns about more contagious COVID-19 variants, including the Delta variant, which was responsible for most of the cases in Ontario in July.

Western says its vaccination and testing center will remain open to all members of the university community.

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The subject of mandatory vaccinations also plays a role in the provincial health sector.

Several organizations, including the Ontario Medical Association, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, and the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, have urged the province to mandate vaccines for medical workers.

The province has strongly opposed both compulsory vaccinations for health workers and calling for a vaccine certification system for places like bars and gyms, as in other jurisdictions.

“There is a mix of views on this particular issue, and we are not asking anyone for vaccines, although we strongly encourage people to take the vaccine,” Health Secretary Christine Elliott said Tuesday after an announcement in Collingwood, Ontario.

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At the federal level, the Trudeau government announced on Wednesday that Canada would soon receive a COVID-19 vaccine passport for international travel.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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