Canadian Medical Association ‘Disappointed’ Quebec, Ontario Do Not Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines for Healthcare Workers
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) says it is âdisappointedâ that the provincial governments of Quebec and Ontario have decided not to require compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 for healthcare workers.
In a press release on Thursday, CMA President Dr. Katharine Smart said the organization has joined with the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) in calling for mandatory vaccines for women. healthcare workers who âowe a duty of care to patients and the publicâ.
Smart said the CMA understands that governments have not taken decisions “lightly” and have a “dual responsibility for the safety and security of the health care system”.
“On the one hand, there is a collective responsibility to protect those in our care and the public against COVID-19,” the statement said. âOn the other hand, the health system has been neglected for so long that health, welfare and the supply of health workers are at extremely low levels. “
Smart said governments are “therefore unable” to implement measures such as compulsory vaccines for health workers “without risking the supply of these workers to be further diminished”.
“When governments are unable to adopt all the necessary health measures to protect their populations during a pandemic, as it means that current staff shortages will worsen, it is a sign of continued system failure. “Smart said in the statement.
Smart said talks about a fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic are “already underway,” adding that “we need to bring solutions to this crisis now.”
CNA President Tim Guest echoed Smart’s remarks, saying the association was “disappointed” with Wednesday’s news.
“We believe that nurses and all health workers have an ethical responsibility to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect their vulnerable patients and of course each other,” he said in a statement sent by email to CTVNews.ca. âAnd we know that nurses, doctors and others expect their colleagues to do the right thing and be vaccinated for our collective safety.
Guest said CNA hopes individual employers “will continue to support and encourage those who are reluctant to get the information needed to get vaccinated.”
The CMA and CNA statements come just a day after the Quebec provincial government announced it would drop its previously announced vaccine requirement for healthcare workers.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford also announced Wednesday that his province will follow suit.
“Implementing a province-wide vaccination mandate for hospital staff can have a negative impact on the care patients receive,” he said in a statement, adding that the enforcement of a warrant could exacerbate a labor shortage.
In a French-language email to CTVNews.ca, the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services said the provincial government had made the decision to change course following public health recommendations and a thorough analysis of the consequences of compulsory vaccination on the capacity of the province. provide care and services to the population.
The ministry said about 14,000 workers were still not vaccinated. Of that number, more than 8,000 working in the field have yet to receive their shot. The ministry said that includes 5,550 people in direct contact with patients.
âDespite the efforts of all the establishments in the network to compensate for the shortage of personnel, the service interruptions and anticipated reductions in activities are numerous and would affect several key sectors, in particular emergencies,â one can read in the email.
Instead of making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory, the ministry said, unvaccinated staff will be screened at least three times a week and infection control and prevention measures will be enforced.
He also said that, where possible, unvaccinated staff will be reassigned to areas with less vulnerable clients, and said anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed into a care facility.
CTVNews.ca contacted the Ontario Ministry of Health for further comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
“IT’S ABOUT PATIENT SAFETY”
Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Health Association, said Ontario must bring “every hospital under the umbrella of a mandatory policy created by the province,” adding that he has the “highest power [and] the strongest under the law.
Dale said some hospitals in the province have decided to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for their employees.
“All I’m saying is that their experience is very promising and shows that we can do it with the least possible effect on the functioning of the health care system,” he told CTV News.
Dale said at the end of the day, “It’s not just about people and human resources – it’s about patient safety.”
Dale said implementing a province-wide vaccination mandate for health workers is the “best way to ensure patient safety.”
“This is the best way to keep the vast majority of healthcare workers who are vaccinated – to keep them and their colleagues safe,” he said. âWe are actually confused as to how the government could not have implemented this policy here in Ontario. “
Dr. Kate Mulligan, professor of social and behavioral health sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public at the University of Toronto, called the announcements “disappointing.”
“It really flies in the face of the science and the evidence we have on how to protect the most vulnerable – medically vulnerable to this virus,” Mulligan told CTVNews.ca Thursday.
Mulligan said a province-wide mandate would make it “much easier” for employers to justify their decisions to implement mandatory vaccines.
âIt also helps protect us all at the provincial level,â explained Mulligan. âIf there are a small number of hospitals that do not apply [vaccines] they then introduce unnecessary risks into the rest of the system. And we could see people in health human resources moving from one area to another – it’s just a risk that seems completely unnecessary to me. “
-With a Reuters file