WINDSOR, ONT. -- All City of Windsor employees will be expected to be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine after council approved a mandatory workplace vaccination policy Monday.

Mayor Drew Dilkens pointed to rising COVID-19 cases and a fourth wave appearing inevitable.

He says the single best chance we all have to avoid additional illness is to ensure that as many individuals as possible are vaccinated.

“Clearly there will be some exceptions dealing with human rights there’ll be some exceptions related to medical issues we can deal with the one off type of event, but for the vast majority of people who aren’t in that sort of field, they can get vaccinated. “We’re trying to get as many folks as vaccinated as possible because we have a shared goal and that shared goal is to continue moving forward,” the mayor said.

This announcement follows the Ontario government policy for high risk settings that will require mandatory vaccinations or bi-weekly testing of individuals who choose not to be vaccinated.

Dilkens said the City of Windsor has an obligation to set the tone and show leadership, and that residents accessing services at city hall need to have confidence that they are interacting with staff who are fully vaccinated and employees returning to the workplace need to know that all steps have been taken to safeguard their health and safety.

“At the same time, city council said to police and Enwin and all of our other agencies and commissions, ‘please consider a similar policy moving forward,’” Dilkens said.

CUPE Local 543 represents roughly 1,400 city and connected workers that could be impacted by the policy.

“We are in the process of engaging our members to try and get a better understanding of where our members are at in terms of vaccinations,” said CUPE Local 543 president David Petten.

He says the union did have a meeting with the city before going to council, and they hope to be part of the consultation process going forward.

“We would prefer a method where all our members will be able to continue to work so we don’t have to worry about any more service disruptions,” Petten says.

The policy will be in place no later than Sept. 7 at which point full details will be available, including the effective date.

The County of Essex also announced it would be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy that would require all employees to be at least partially vaccinated by Sept. 7 and fully vaccinated no later than Oct. 30.

The policy will include employees who work with Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services and Sun Parlor Home as well as contractors and visitors to the County of Essex facilities.

“We are taking this step for the health and safety of our employees and our community,” said CAO Mike Galloway. “A fourth wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the Delta variant is at our doorstep, and vaccination is our most effective weapon against severe illness and death. We are grateful to all our employees who have already rolled up their sleeves and been fully vaccinated. This is how we can save lives and reduce the pressure on our health-care system.”

A news release from the County issued Monday says exceptions will be made for only those who need a medical exemption or have a bona fide religious objection under the Ontario Human Rights Code.