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Some college faculty, staff should be in Phase II of vaccine roll-out

In a joint letter, OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and College Employer Council CEO Graham Lloyd urged the government to include college faculty and staff who work with students in Phase II of the vaccine roll-out, along with teachers and other education staff.

“We are jointly taking this opportunity to emphasize that college faculty and staff who work with students are indeed front-line workers and should be included in the phase II rollout that is planned for ‘teachers and other education staff,’” wrote Thomas and Lloyd to Colleges and Universities Minister Ross Romano.

“Given the importance of their work to the health care system and to the economy, we want to ensure that those individuals that are in labs, classrooms and clinical settings are included as teachers within the Phase II Rollout.”

March 3, 2021
Hon. Ross Romano
Ministry of Colleges and Universities
5th Floor
438 University Ave.
Toronto, ON M7A 2A5

RE. Phase II COVID-19 Vaccination for Teachers

Dear Minister Romano:

Both of us are writing you in your capacity as the Minister of Colleges and Universities and this letter is being jointly submitted pertaining to the Government’s COVID-19 Vaccination plan.

First, we commend the government in all its efforts to protect Ontarians. As we all too frequently state, this pandemic is unprecedented and challenging and we must continue to work together in ensuring the protection of the citizens of Ontario.

We are writing in the context of the provincial COVID-19 vaccination plan which identifies “front-line essential workers, including first responders, teachers and other education staff, and the food processing industry” (emphasis added) as targeted for Phase II roll-out.

We are jointly taking this opportunity to emphasize that college faculty and staff who work with students are indeed front-line workers and should be included in the phase II rollout that is planned for “teachers and other education staff”. As you know, Colleges have taken great steps, and invested significantly in measures to ensure the protection of all of their employees and students. Given the importance of their work to the health care system and to the economy, we want to ensure that those individuals that are in labs, classrooms and clinical settings are included as teachers within the Phase II Rollout.

As you are keenly aware, Ontario’s colleges have been strategic partners with your government throughout the pandemic. From the outset colleges have supported provincial efforts with the delivery and manufacturing of PPE, coordinating the use of college facilities to aid in various components of the COVID 19 pandemic response, and preparing for specialized and accelerated programs to help address critical labour shortages (ie: Personal Support Worker programs).

More recently they have participated in efforts such as the use of college campuses as COVID 19 testing sites, and the exploration of colleges as possible vaccine delivery sites. There is no doubt that Colleges and their front line faculty and staff have all been essential in provincial efforts to keep Ontario’s economy strong.

For Ontario’s colleges to continue to play this critical role, we must bolster their ability to keep their campuses safe by including their front-line workers in Phase II of the provincial vaccination roll-out. As such, it is important that vaccines intended for teachers and other education staff include those at our colleges that are working directly with students. Both the College Employer Council (CEC) and the OPSEU/SEFPO hold this shared position that access to the Phase II vaccination for employees working directly with students will be beneficial for students, faculty, staff, and public health.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Please do not hesitate to let us know if there is anything we can do to assist you.

Sincerely,

Graham Lloyd
CEC CEO

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

c:
RM Kennedy, Chair, OPSEU CAAT Academic Division
Laurie Rancourt, Chair, EERC Committee
Peter McKeracher, VP Labour Relations, College Employer Council
Lisa Lavigne & Denis Martinez, CAAT- Support Divex Chairs