LILLEY: Mandatory vaccinations for hospital workers not so easy

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The world is a simple place for Ontario’s Opposition: Make vaccines mandatory and fire all the health workers who won’t get the shot.


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Forget the fact that a court just granted an emergency injunction to health workers in Toronto terminated last week, and that the concern is getting ahead of the surgery backlog rather than creating a new one. The NDP wants vaccine mandates and wants them now.

“Will the premier listen to his own experts and bring in mandatory vaccines for front-line workers and education workers?” asked NDP MPP Sandy Shaw.

Shaw cited the Ontario Science Table’s call for mandatory vaccinations and their claim that burned-out health workers will face even more fatigue if unvaccinated workers can’t work due to a COVID infection. Over the past several weeks, 57 hospital workers were fired in Windsor, 59 in Kingston, 200 at University Health Network in Toronto and 147 were placed on unpaid leave at Sick Kids.


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Last Friday, Justice Sean Dunphy of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued an interim injunction in the case of several terminated UHN employees.

“The harm raised by the applicants is potentially serious and cannot be undone,” Dunphy wrote.

The applicants argue they cannot be vaccinated and left destitute by this decision. The case will be heard later this week and could have an impact on mandatory vaccination policies across the province.

Why wait for that, though, bring in the mandatory vaccination policy now, chant the NDP!

Premier Doug Ford said that he reached out to the people who run Ontario’s hospital system and asked them what they wanted to see when it comes to mandatory policies. He also asked them specific questions about the situation in their areas.


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“What is their plan to catch up on the backlog surgeries? What are their plans for the diagnostics? What are their plans to catch up on the cancer surgeries? That’s what we need to know before we determine that,” Ford said in the legislature.

He also said that he had not heard back from hospital CEOs in Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and some rural areas. Those are the specific areas that the government has said could face staffing shortages — and cancelled surgeries and diagnostics — if workers are terminated for not being vaccinated.

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“We have received some responses, we are still receiving others, in order to be able to make a proper decision based on the clinical evidence and based on the knowledge that we have out there,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.


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Imagine that, getting evidence before making decisions.

The NDP wants this to happen now, and the Liberals put forward a bill that would make vaccinations mandatory with the caveat no one would lose their job for failing to comply.

The Liberals want to sound tough on the issue while offering no consequences, and the NDP want to see people fired regardless of the consequences.

I encourage everyone to be vaccinated, and agree it would be best if everyone working in health care had both shots. That is not reality, though, and the government has to deal with the situation before them.

If firing workers who are not vaccinated results in cancelled surgeries or cancer screenings, who does that help?

Quebec has had to push back its mandate by a month or face the closure of operating rooms and beds; British Columbia had to soften their mandate to ensure continued care in seniors’ homes.

  1. The UHN covers Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals, among other facilities.

    Ontario court issues interim injunction against UHN vaccine mandate

  2. Ontario Premier Doug Ford trades places with Health Minister Christine Elliott during a press briefing in Toronto, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

    Ontario continues to mull mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers

  3. Health care workers rally against provincial Bill 124 outside Bluewater Health in Sarnia on Aug. 12.

    BRAUN: Public rally against Bill 124 underscores nurses’ dissatisfaction

Too much of what has passed for policy during the pandemic has been posturing at best.

The Ford government is asking the right questions; let’s wait for the answers before making decisions.


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