Association calls for mandatory vaccines in health care

Afton Park Place Long Term Care Community in Sarnia. July 2019. (Photo from Google Maps)

One of Ontario’s oldest health care associations has called on the provincial government to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for people in health care.

AdvantAge Ontario, which represents over 400 senior care providers across Ontario, has asked the government to make vaccinations mandatory for all people working in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, home-based care, and long-term care homes.

“We are very concerned with the province’s reluctance to step up and introduce a policy mandating vaccines in our sector,” said AdvantAge CEO Lisa Levin in a media release. “We need the government to create a level playing field by creating a single policy that applies evenly across the entire healthcare sector.”

At the moment, mandatory vaccine policies have been left up to individual establishments and certain government departments, but Levin said with Ontario in the fourth wave of the pandemic, it’s just not good enough.

She said that such piecemeal regulation may increase staff turnover, and open LTC facilities to lawsuits should Delta-based outbreaks occur.

“Our members are not part of large chains. They don’t have the deep pockets to withstand legal challenges,” said Levin. “More people will die unless the government acts. We must put our residents first. We’re talking about the most vulnerable people in the province, and everyone has the right to safety, no matter where they live.”

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has ordered all hospitals and LTC facilities to have vaccine policies for employees, contractors, volunteers, and EMS personnel. Effective September 7, these facilities must have, at the minimum, requirements for employees to have either proof of full vaccination, a medical exemption, or completion of a vaccine education course.