Ford asks hospital administrators for input on potential vaccine mandate for healthcare workers
TORONTO -- Premier Doug Ford has written a letter to hospital administrators soliciting their input on the idea of mandating vaccination for all healthcare workers.
The Ford government currently requires all unvaccinated healthcare workers to participate in a rapid testing program but it has not yet taken the step of making vaccination mandatory, even as a number of hospitals have introduced their own policies and placed hundreds of non-compliant workers on unpaid leaves of absences.
In a letter sent to hospital CEOs and dozen of healthcare industry stakeholders obtained by CP24 on Friday, Ford acknowledged that some groups have pushed for a province-wide vaccine mandate for healthcare workers but said that any decision “will need to balance the risk” posed by COVID-19 with the risk of “further exacerbating health human resourcing challenges.”
Ford then asked the leaders a series of questions around whether they would support a provincewide vaccine mandate for healthcare workers and what potential impacts such a mandate would have on their ability to provide care.
“As I have always said, our government will do whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians,” he said in the letter. “That is why I am writing to you today requesting your input on vaccine mandates in hospitals, recognizing the recent challenges we’ve seen in other provinces as they’ve pursued similar policies.”
The Ontario Medical Association has been calling for a mandatory vaccine requirement for all healthcare workers since July.
But the Ford government has so far stopped short of making vaccination mandatory for all healthcare workers, as it did for employees in the long-term care sector earlier this month.
In his letter, Ford asked hospital administrators whether there are other parts of the system where unvaccinated workers could be reassigned “including administrative or other non-patient facing roles.”
He also asked them to compare the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in healthcare settings with the risk of “widespread human resource implications that may result from a vaccine mandate.”
Quebec has previously pushed back a deadline for its healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated y a month amid concerns that it would have to suspend more than 22,000 people.
“Any decision will need to balance the risks posed by COVID-19 to hospitals with the risk of further exacerbating health human resourcing challenges and the risks these may pose to the sector’s ongoing delivery of high-quality care,” Ford wrote in the letter.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has previously said that about 40 per cent of hospitals have implemented their own vaccine mandates for workers.
Some of those hospitals have already placed hundreds of employees on unpaid leaves, while others are expected to do so in the coming weeks.
The province has not provided any data about the vaccination rate among healthcare workers, despite releasing vaccine information for individual long-term care homes earlier this month.
Ford has given hospital administrators until Oct. 19 to respond to his letter.