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Four of the top five Canadian banks are taking a stricter stance with their return-to-office policies, requiring that workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before coming back to company buildings, while the fifth is moving in the same direction.
Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Bank of Montreal on Friday joined other major financial firms in requiring returning staff to be fully vaccinated. All Toronto-Dominion employees will be asked to register their vaccination status by Sept. 30, according to a memo sent to staff Friday. As of Nov. 1, full vaccination will be required of staffers working in all company locations globally, a spokesman for the Toronto-based bank said.
“We believe that the majority of TD colleagues have already been vaccinated. This is great news,” Kenn Lalonde, chief human resources officer, said in the memo. “However, COVID-19 remains with us and the delta variant, which is far more contagious, is spreading in our communities, primarily to those who are unvaccinated.”
CIBC and Bank of Montreal said in internal memos Friday that they’re requiring their employees in North America to be vaccinated by Oct. 31. On Thursday, Royal Bank of Canada said it would require jabs by the end of October. Bank of Nova Scotia is “moving in the direction of making vaccinations mandatory for all Canadian-based employees, and contractors, later in the fall,” said Barb Mason, chief human resources officer.
At National Bank of Canada, between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of employees will be able to go back to offices by the beginning of September on a voluntary basis, and the gradual return to its buildings is scheduled for mid-October, spokesperson Stephanie Rousseau said, declining to comment on the bank’s vaccination policy.
Any Toronto-Dominion workers who aren’t vaccinated or haven’t disclosed their status by Nov. 1 will be required to complete training about the benefits of vaccination, submit to mandatory COVID-19 rapid testing and wear a mask at all times. The bank wouldn’t say whether employees who continue to hold out after that deadline would lose their jobs.
“Our policy is that employees are required to be fully vaccinated or they will be subjected to stringent additional protocols and restriction,” said Mohammed Nakhooda, a Toronto-Dominion spokesman. “We believe that this policy will significantly increase the safety of TD locations and directly contributes to the global efforts to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”
Lalonde, in his memo, said the vaccination policy “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.” Outside Canada, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc., both based in New York, are among the companies requiring employees to be vaccinated.
Concerns about the highly transmissible delta variant are causing companies and governments to rethink the safety of allowing unvaccinated employees to return to offices. On Friday, the U.S. extended restrictions on nonessential travel at land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through Sept. 21. Earlier this month Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would mandate COVID-19 vaccines for air and rail passengers and employees, public servants and other categories of federally regulated workers.
On Friday, Toronto’s medical officer of health said all city employers should institute vaccine policies to protect workers and the public. At a minimum, workers should be required to provide proof of vaccination and, if they’re not, provide a medical explanation and attend a vaccination-education course, Eileen de Villa said in a statement.