Deloitte walks back Covid-19 vaccine mandate

18 March 2022 2 min. read

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

Deloitte instituted an employee vaccination mandate last year, as did numerous other white-collar companies. The federal government also imposed a vaccine mandate for federal public servants and certain federally regulated employers such as rail and airline companies.

Now, as provinces move to eliminate public gathering restrictions, vaccine passports, and masking requirements, the Toronto-based accounting and consulting firm has opted to axe its Covid-19-related restrictions. The firm on March 21 will no longer require proof of vaccination to enter its offices nor will it require masks in common spaces, according to a Globe and Mail report.

Deloitte is following the Ontario government’s lead. 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 contend that provincial leaders are jumping the gun on swiftly eliminating restrictions, including mask mandates and capacity restrictions. One need only look to surging case numbers of an Omicron subvariant in Europe and China to see the storm clouds building once more.

Deloitte walks back Covid-19 vaccine mandate

But the world has already seen a previous reduction in Covid-19 cases, a fairly good summer, and then another public-health-system-crushing spike in cases as the weather turned and new variants took hold. The cycle of Covid misery may continue, or mercifully turn into a weaker endemic affliction.

Deloitte is, however, one of the few large companies to reverse its vaccine mandate in the early days of governmental signaling that Operation Covid Freedom is “Mission Accomplished.” Its Big Four brethren (EY, PwC, and KPMG) are keeping their mandates in place, though PwC said it continues to review its policies.

The Big Five banks and the federal government also continue to have their vaccine mandates in place.

What is Deloitte’s calculus in the reversal? For one, it would make things easier for its HR department. They would no longer have to confirm vaccination status for current employees, nor would they have to dismiss unvaccinated candidates in a tight labour market. The legal department would also eliminate the prospect of future wrongful dismissal claims on the vaccine mandate front.

From a public opinion standpoint, the move would be viewed with approval by conservatives while not necessarily arousing strong emotions from liberals. The firm can also say it is merely following the guidelines of the Ontario government.

Where the mandate reversal would look bad is if they had to reinstate it because of another severe and prolonged Covid wave. But in that case, Deloitte would be likely to just shutter its offices temporarily and leave the specter of an embarrassing waffle at bay.