Ontario Premier Doug Ford has issued a letter to hospital CEOs asking for their input about a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
Many hospitals across the province have already enacted their own mandates, going beyond the current provincial policy of having hospital staff vaccinated or subject to frequent testing.
Several hospitals have fired some staff who didn’t get vaccinated by their deadline or have placed them on unpaid leave, though they say the numbers are such that it isn’t affecting operations or patient care.
“As I have always said, our government will do whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians. That is why I am writing to you today requesting your input on vaccine mandates in hospitals, recognizing the recent challenges we’ve seen in other provinces as they’ve pursued similar policies,” the Premier’s letter reads.
To date, Ontario has administered over 22 million vaccines, meaning over 86 per cent of all eligible Ontarians are fully vaccinated, and more than 81 per cent are now fully immunized. These high numbers, achieved because of the incredible cooperation of frontline health care workers, public health officials, and all levels of government, have ranked Ontario as a world leader in vaccine coverage. Regardless of this success, we continue to encourage all Ontarians who have not been vaccinated to book an appointment as soon as possible.
Ford’s letter says some have suggested that a provincewide mandate is necessary, but he says it’s important to balance the risks posed by COVID-19 with any strain on staffing resources.
NEW – Premier Ford has sent a letter to hospital CEOs asking about for their input about a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. pic.twitter.com/psZVEuU3LJ
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He is asking the healthcare leaders to give him their input on questions about the potential impacts of a vaccine mandate, anything more the government could be doing to increase vaccine uptake among healthcare workers, and whether unvaccinated staff could be reassigned to non-front-line roles.
“We are already seeing other Canadian jurisdictions that have implemented mandatory vaccine policies, including British Columbia and Quebec, softening or delaying their implementation date,” Ford writes.
“At the same time, existing public health and workplace safety have helped to limit outbreaks in hospitals. In the past two weeks, there have been two active outbreaks in hospitals. The first has a total of 5 cases, one of which is a health care worker.”
Ford is also asking the hospital CEOs specifically what impact a mandatory policy would have on diagnostic procedures or elective surgeries.
“Is your hospital concerned about the impact that making vaccines mandatory may have on your hospital’s staffing levels?” is among the questions posed by Ford.
“Does your hospital have a plan in place to address a potential staff shortage related to mandatory vaccinations? Are you able to characterize the expected impact of a mandatory policy on diagnostic procedures or elective surgeries?”