Deloitte reconsiders the mandate of the Covid-19 vaccine

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Deloitte Canada has canceled its Covid-19 vaccination mandate as provinces moved to ease pandemic restrictions amid falling infection numbers.

Deloitte instituted an employee vaccination mandate last year, as did many other white-collar companies. The federal government has also imposed a vaccination mandate on federal public servants and some federally regulated employers such as railroads and airlines.

Now, as provinces work to eliminate collection restrictions, vaccine passports and masking requirements, the Toronto-based accounting and consulting firm has opted to remove its Covid-19 related restrictions. On March 21, the company will no longer require proof of vaccination to enter its offices or masks in common areas, according to a Globe and Mail report.

Deloitte is following the lead of the Ontario government. The province will also end mask mandates and all capacity restrictions on March 21. Ontario already eliminated its vaccine passport system earlier this month.

Some public health experts say provincial leaders are rushing to quickly lift restrictions, including mask mandates and capacity restrictions. Just look at the growing number of cases of an Omicron sub-variant in Europe and China to see the storm clouds forming once again.

But the world has already seen a previous reduction in the number of cases, a pretty good summer, and then another crushing spike in cases for the public health system as the weather turned and new variants took hold. The cycle of Covid misery can continue or, fortunately, turn into a weaker endemic affliction.

Deloitte is, however, one of the few major companies to reverse its vaccine mandate at the start of government signaling that Operation Covid Freedom is “mission accomplished”. Its four big brothers (EY, PwC and KPMG) are keeping their mandates in place, although PwC has said it continues to review its policies.

The big five banks and the federal government also continue to have their vaccine mandates.

What is Deloitte’s calculation in the inversion? On the one hand, it would make things easier for its HR department. They would no longer have to confirm the vaccination status of current employees, or fire unvaccinated applicants in a tight labor market. The legal department would also eliminate the prospect of future wrongful termination claims on the vaccine mandate front.

From the point of view of public opinion, this decision would be considered with the approval of the Conservatives without necessarily arousing strong emotions among the Liberals. The company can also say that it is only following the guidelines of the Ontario government.

Where the mandate reversal would look bad is if they were to reinstate it because of another severe and prolonged Covid wave. But in that case, Deloitte would temporarily close its offices and ward off the specter of an embarrassing waffle.

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