Ontario hospitals plan to uphold COVID-19 vaccine policies

TORONTO – The vaccination obligation is there and will remain in force. Not even the shortage of staff that has led to a crisis with more emergency rooms closed on weekends is enough to soften the hard line of Ontario hospitals that require employees to immunize against Covid-19. 

Last March, the province canceled the obligation to vaccinate in hospitals but there are many who have continued to implement their policies, going so far as to dismiss workers who had opposed a firm refusal to vaccination.

And now the Ontario government has said that hospitals are free to continue implementing their own guidelines in this regard.

Contacted by CTV News, over twelve hospitals said that despite the staff crisis, they do not think about abandoning their vaccination policies, at least for the moment. “Healthcare professionals deserve to feel safe and provide care to patients in an environment that requires the highest level of protection available against Covid-19 – said the president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association Anthony Dale – the presence of unvaccinated employees in the workplace would not be supported by the tens of thousands of vaccinated staff working today in Ontario hospitals”.  said Dale.

But the problem of the lack of nurses and doctors is certainly not to be attributed to the hard fist as regards vaccinations against Covid. Dale said the no vax group represents only a very small number. At the University Health Network, for example, only about one percent of the workforce or 153 of its 17,500 employees have not complied with the policy and therefore have left the workplace. “UHN cares for many immunocompromised people and immunosuppressed people, so we need to provide the highest possible protection to both patients and our staff,” said UHN spokesperson Gillian Howard.

Dr. Jeff Powis, medical director of infection prevention and control at Michael Garron Hospital (MHG), saw the current “pressures” that hospitals are under across the province due to staff shortages. However, he said, MGH has no intention of changing its position on mandatory vaccination.

On the same wavelength are the North York General Hospital and the William Osler Health System.

Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), said she supports the iron fist hospitals are adopting with their vaccine policies. “The numbers are minimal, compared to the people who have left because of Bill 124 or the number of general and professional nurses who are waiting to be able to start working, as many as 26,000,” Grinspun said.