The Ontario government says it will not be moving forward in enacting a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for hospital workers.
The province said it made its decision after speaking to hospitals and health-care partners about the potential impact a policy of that magnitude would entail and based on “real-world evidence here in Ontario and across Canada.”
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the Ford government said it is a complex issue but pointed to the negative impact a similar policy had on the healthcare system in B.C., where more than 3,000 workers were terminated, forcing the cancellation of surgeries and diagnostic tests.
“Quebec has now abandoned theirs altogether because of the significant risk an abrupt loss of thousands of health care workers posses to delivery critical services,” the province added.
Hospitals, local medical officers of health and other health-care organizations were asked to provide input and on Monday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province had enough information to make its decision.
Ford also said high vaccination rates in hospitals and strong infection control measures mean hospitals are safe and can manage outbreaks.
Despite the decision to not make it a mandatory policy across the province by the government, several hospitals have already implemented their own mandates and have seen roughly two per cent of staff placed on unpaid leave or terminated because of the policies.
The Ottawa Hospital placed 186 people on leave Monday, representing less than one per cent of its workforce.
The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance said as of its Sunday vaccination deadline, 26 staff and one physician did not comply, equal to about two per cent of employees.
The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance said Monday that 14 staff and two physicians were put on leave, equal to about one per cent of its workforce.
Alexandra Marine and General Hospital in Goderich, Ont., said that seven people, none who are clinical staff, will be placed on leave, representing about three per cent of staff.
“We will continue to monitor the situation in our hospitals very closely and take additional action if warranted,” the province said Wednesday.
“At this time, however, the evidence tells us that because of the measures currently in place, including vaccination rates, regular testing and rigorous IPAC practices, our hospitals remain safe for patients and staff members who care for them.”
Elliott is set to speak to the media at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
—With files from The Canadian Press
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