November 17, 2021
TORONTO — The Toronto police say vaccine mandates are not a crime.
The service says it’s been inundated with complaints from a group of teachers that argue the requirement to prove vaccination at the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board is tantamount to extortion — and asking that the reports stop.
“We have taken 53 reports in relation to TDSB and three for TCDSB. After reviewing the occurrences, no criminal charges will be laid. This is not a criminal matter and we would ask that people do not report this to police,” said a police spokesperson.
As of November 1, the TDSB’s policy states that trustees, employees and other people who have direct contact with staff and students at the TDSB must be fully vaccinated. There are some exemptions.
A video posted online shows a man who says he is an educator at a November 6 rally at Nathan Phillips Square telling the crowd that he and a “handful” of other teachers went to 32 Division in October to complain that they were being extorted.
“Myself and a handful of other staff from the Toronto District School Board went to the Toronto Police, and reported crimes of extortion, assault, attempted assault, harassment and many other charges under the Criminal Code of Canada,” the man says to cheers.
An individual CTV News Toronto believes is the person featured in the video did not respond to messages for comment.
The Elementary Teachers of Toronto also agree it’s not a police matter. But they say they’re not entirely happy with how the policy has rolled out either.
“For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that it’s extortion,” said Jamie Them. “We support vaccination policies, but the specifics of the TDSB policy, certainly in relation to attestation, we feel that it’s not consistent with what other school boards have implemented.”
He said other school boards allow unvaccinated people to attend as long as they are tested often.
Right now, about 37,000 teachers are complying with the board’s vaccine mandate, or about 89 per cent. About 1,594 staff or 3.8 per cent, aren’t compliant. The rest are seeking exemptions or are on leave.
Of those who are noncompliant, 875 have attested they are unvaccinated, and 719 have not made any attestation.