An Ontario MPP says despite Premier Doug Ford’s statement that health-care workers don’t have to be COVID-19 vaccinated, health institutions can still mandate the policy on their own.
Ford said on Nov. 3 that he won’t force hospital workers to be vaccinated in light of the challenges other provinces have had in implementing vaccine mandates in their health care institutions.
The premier said he’s not prepared to jeopardize Ontario’s health-care system, risking the lives of residents who need critical health services.
“Having looked at the evidence, our government has decided to maintain its flexible approach by leaving human resourcing decisions up to individual hospitals,” he said.
Roman Baber, an independent MPP who represents Toronto’s York-Centre riding, says the premier is “misrepresenting reality.”
“Tens of thousands of [health-care workers] will be fired since almost all institutions have their own termination policy! Delivery of care to millions of Ontarians is jeopardized,” Baber wrote on Twitter on Nov. 3 following Ford’s statement.
More than a dozen hospitals across Ontario have implemented the vaccine mandate for their staff to date, prior to Ford’s latest announcement.
In late September, about 170 staff members at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Windsor Regional Hospital in Windsor were put on unpaid leave for not receiving their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the deadlines set out by their employers.
Other health-care institutions that have implemented COVID-19 vaccination mandates for their employees include Toronto’s University Health Network, the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, The Ottawa Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, Cornwall Community Hospital, Brockville General Hospital, and William Osler Health System.
Baber says the premier should protect the livelihood of the unvaccinated health professionals, and pass a bill “or call for a moratorium on the termination of healthcare workers.”
When asked to comment, a spokesperson for the premier’s office said, “our statement stands.” Asked if health-care institutions are able to set up their own vaccine mandates, the spokesperson didn’t respond by publication time.
On Nov. 3, Quebec reversed course on suspending unvaccinated health care staff by its planned deadline of Nov. 15.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said the termination of these professionals would negatively impact the province’s health system.
“To deprive ourselves of 8,000 people [in health-care staff ranks] will have devastating consequences for our network,” Dubé said at a press conference.