Ontario hospitals plan to maintain COVID-19 vaccine policies amid ‘crisis’ staffing shortages

Ontario hospitals maintain their mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for employees as staffing shortages turn into a “crisis” with more emergency departments temporarily closing for the weekend.

The province removed the hospital vaccination mandate in March, but dozens kept their own policies, ultimately leading to the firing of members who refused to be vaccinated. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health said that these organizations are free to “choose” to implement their own vaccination policies.

CTV News Toronto asked more than a dozen of those hospitals if they are considering lifting their mandates as the province faces a staffing “crisis,” as Ontario executive vice president for health Dr. Chris Simpson said. described the current situation In the past week.

In each response, the hospitals said that they were not currently considering abandoning their vaccination policies.

“Healthcare workers deserve to feel safe and provide patient care in an environment that requires the highest level of protection available against COVID-19,” said Ontario Hospital Association President and CEO Anthony Dale. to CTV News Toronto.

“Having unvaccinated workers in the workplace would not be supported by the tens of thousands of vaccinated employees working in Ontario hospitals today,” Dale said.

In a statement, Dale acknowledged that this group only represents a “very small number” of providers who choose not to get vaccinated.

In the University Health Network, up to one percent of the workforce, 153 of its 17,500 employees, did not meet their politics and left the workplace.

“UHN sees a lot of immunocompromised patients and immunosuppressed patients, so we need to provide as much protection as possible for patients and our staff,” said UHN spokeswoman Gillian Howrad.

Dr. Jeff Powis, medical director of infection prevention and control at Michael Garron Hospital (MHG), acknowledged the current staffing “pressures” facing hospitals across the province. However, he said that MGH has no plans to change its position on mandatory vaccination.

Similar comments were echoed by North York General Hospital and William Osler Health System. “For the safety of all who walk through our doors, Osler’s policy will continue to be implemented as planned.”

Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) Executive Director Doris Grinspun said she supports the hard line hospitals are taking with their vaccine policies.

“The numbers are minimal, compared to people who left because of Bill 124 or the number of RNs, RNs and NPs waiting on the sidelines to be processed to practice, 26,000 of them,” Grinspun said. .

“Those are the solutions and not the modified solutions that would put patients at risk.”

With files from Abby Neufeld of CTV News Toronto

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