Vaccine mandates delayed amid labour shortage fears

Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario have updated their vaccine policies

Vaccine mandates delayed amid labour shortage fears

Provinces across Canada are updating their vaccine mandates amid concerns of labour shortage that could be triggered by suspension of unvaccinated workers. Nova Scotia is extending its mandatory vaccinations for public sector employees by two months, according to a report from CTV News. Workers who have their first shot by November 15 will be awarded an additional eight weeks to have second one. This is an extension from the province's original November 30 deadline.

Quebec drops mandate

Meanwhile, in a much bolder decision, Quebec backtracked their requirement for health workers to be vaccinated to avoid further staff shortages across the province. An estimated 8,000 health workers remain unvaccinated in Quebec, according to Health Minister Christian Dubé, who added that suspending them for not having the jabs will lead to "devastating consequences for our network."

Instead of mandatory vaccinations, Dubé said the province will be implementing a stricter testing system where unvaccinated staff will be tested for COVID-19 three times a week, CTV News reported. They will also not receive COVID-19 bonuses or retention bonuses, and refusal to get tested will lead to suspension without pay, he added.

Read more: Quebec's nurses order says it will suspend licence for unvaccinated members

This backtracking earned the criticism of Opposition leader Dominique Anglade, who said Premier Francois Legault is not able to cope with the challenge.

"This decline is unjustifiable and the #CAQ should have acted in January when we asked for this measure to be put in place. How can we believe it now?" she said in French.

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) has yet to make a public statement about the mandate, but they said on Wednesday that they’re "strongly" recommending vaccination to their members.

"The FIQ strongly recommends vaccination to all its members. Vaccination is one of the effective ways of prevention and protection against #COVID19," FIQ said on Facebook post.

Ontario refuses mandates

Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province will not be mandating health workers to have the jabs - citing incidents in other provinces where critical services were left at risk due to loss of workers.

"This is a complex issue," said Ford in a statement provided to the media. "But when the impact of the potential departure of tens of thousands of health care workers is weighed against the small number of outbreaks that are currently active in Ontario's hospitals, I am not prepared to jeopardise the delivery of care to millions of Ontarians."

According to Ford, he’s leaving the formulation of vaccine mandates to individual employers.

"Having looked at the evidence, our government has decided to maintain its flexible approach by leaving human resourcing decisions up to individual hospitals,” he added. “At this time, however, the evidence tells us that because of the measures currently in place, including vaccination rates, regular testing and rigorous infection prevention and control (IPAC) practices, our hospitals remain safe for patients and staff members who care for them."

Read more: Ontario reveals long-term plan to end COVD-19 restrictions

Ford's announcement was met with trepidation from opposing parties, adding that the Ontario leader is catering to anti-vaxxers ahead of the elections.

"By refusing to mandate vaccines, Doug Ford is catering to anti-vaxxers at the risk of our vulnerable loved ones," said Official Opposition leader Andrea Horwath on a tweet. "I'm grateful to the vast majority of health workers who have already got their shots. They deserve a government working to protect them & their patients.”

Ontario Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca echoed the similar sentiments, saying that Ford should be ashamed for putting "most vulnerable patients in harm's way."

"Doug Ford has chosen anti-vaxxers over cancer patients. He's putting our most vulnerable patients in harm's way because he's scared that the Conservative anti-vax community won't support his re-election otherwise. He should be ashamed," he said on a tweet.

In a separate tweet, he accused the Ontario premier of catering to the anti-vax community ahead of the elections.

"Doug Ford's Conservatives are putting our most vulnerable patients at risk, because they don't want to upset the Conservative anti-vax community ahead of an election," he said.


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