Ford will not mandate vaccines for health care workers

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, September 22, 2021. (via YouTube)

Despite feedback from stakeholders, the Ontario government will not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for hospital employees.

According to a statement from Premier Doug Ford, reported by The National Postthe government will not impose a mandate so that health care can continue functioning efficiently. Instead, Ford is putting the decision in the hands of specific facilities.

“I am not prepared to jeopardize the delivery of care to millions of Ontarians,” said Ford. “Having looked at the evidence, our government has decided to maintain its flexible approach by leaving human resourcing decisions up to individual hospitals.”

Ford cited recent consultations with hospitals across the province, and judging by the low number of Ontario hospitals experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, felt that a mandate was not necessary.

“Once identified, hospitals have protocols in place to effectively manage any outbreak to ensure that it is quickly contained, resolved, and has little if any impact on patient care,” said Ford. “At the same time, experience in other Canadian jurisdictions tells us that implementing a province-wide vaccine mandate for hospital workers can negatively impact the care patients receive.”

Those jurisdictions include Quebec, which scratched its mandate, and British Columbia, where Ford said surgical procedures were cancelled after about 3,000 health care workers were fired for refusing to get the shot.

Reaction to Ford’s announcement has been swift from a variety of sources. The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) expressed its disappointment in a tweeted statement Wednesday evening.

“The overwhelming number of health care workers who are fully vaccinated also deserve to feel safe and to deliver patient care in an environment that requires the highest level of protection available against COVID-19,”  read the OHA response. “A provincial approach to health care worker vaccination remains vital to preventing the spread and scale of COVID-19. The OHA welcomes continued dialogue with the Government of Ontario on this matter.”

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca accused Ford of catering to anti-vaccine protestors.

“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,” said Del Duca.