One of Canada’s largest financial services companies is abandoning its rapid testing program and making Covid vaccination mandatory for all in-office staff.

Sun Life Financial is requiring all employees at its financial centres to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as of May 1, according to an internal memo obtained by True North.

“All FC Field Leaders and FC Staff must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as they are required to work on-site at a Sun Life location,” the memo says.

The current mandate, which the Toronto-based company adopted in August, allows unvaccinated employees to take part in a rapid screening program. That program will no longer be available for office-based employees.

Employees have until April 15 to confirm they’re vaccinated, or they “may be placed on unpaid leave,” the memo warns.

Advisors who don’t regularly work out of a Sun Life facility will be required to be vaccinated or take part in Sun Life’s rapid screening program in order to visit a financial centre or a Sun Life corporate office.

Sun Life did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

An unvaccinated Sun Life employee told True North they expect to be fired when the new policy kicks in on May 1.

“I’m deeply hurt and disappointed by Sun Life’s mandatory injection policy,” said the employee, who has asked not to be named for fear of retribution. “Starting May 1, they can fire me for making a private medical decision to not take the Covid vaccine.”

The employee said they’ve spoken to unvaccinated colleagues who are “worried and frightened for their livelihoods” because of the policy.

“It’s so stressful,” they said.

The employee added that Sun Life’s vaccine mandate flies in the face of the company’s claims of supporting an inclusive work environment.

“This new policy of ‘the jab or your job’ is the epitome of exclusion,” they said. “It’s a form of medical discrimination which should be illegal.”

Many provinces have imposed vaccine mandates on healthcare workers and public employees, though no such mandates exist for the broader private sector. Ontario is lifting its public employee vaccine mandate on April 4.

However, governments have said private businesses retain the choice to set their own policies for requiring proof of vaccination from staff or customers.

The federal government also maintains a sweeping vaccine mandate for federal public servants.

The Sun Life employee said they’ve had positive experiences working for the company, but this policy crosses a line.

“Sun Life’s misguided vaccine mandate is cruel,” they said. “It is unloving and not how we should treat each other. It divides us and our communities. It’s creating a horrible and oppressive energy, ruining the great culture we have at Sun Life.”

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A Canadian broadcaster and columnist, Andrew serves as a journalism fellow at True North and host of The Andrew Lawton Show.

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