Aug 17, 2021

By Christine Ross

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Ontario has stopped short of making vaccines mandatory for health and education workers instead opting for a policy similar to those in the long term care sector.

Effective September 7th, employees must show proof of vaccination or a medical exemption, and unvaccinated employees will have to submit a negative test once a week, or take an education course.

But Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore says he supports any corporations that decide to make vaccines mandatory.

“We will reflect on it, and if we’re not achieving the immunization rate we need, individual corporations and hospitals can do more, if the risk to their workforce and their patients is higher, there’s certainly an opportunity for them to do more in terms of the immunization policy.”

University Health Network already has these measures in place but U-H-N President Dr. Kevin Smith says this new policy opens the door for further enforcement.

“I think there is a slight difference, Dr. Moore left the door open is saying here’s the minimum standard for hospitals, and if some of us need to go a bit further than that, for example University Health Network, will need to consider to go a bit further.”

Reaction to the new vaccine policy has been swift and largely negative.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is not a fan, calling it a ‘half baked’ measure that does not make vaccines mandatory.

“It’s very clear we have to be much more forceful when it comes to our policies around this so that  kids we send back to school and parents can rest assured that there will be no adult in the classroom who is not vaccinated.”

Michael Garron Hospital critical care physician Dr. Michael Warner says this is not a vaccine mandate rather vaccine encouragement.

“I hope the Ontario Hospital Association and its member organizations get together and do the right thing for patients no matter what the politicians or the unions say because it’s the right thing to do to protect people.”

Dr. Warner says all that’s mandated is an education session for the unvaccinated and rapid testing paid for by the government. Check out Dr. Warner’s twitter feed here

Ontario is also pausing all further reopenings, will start offering third COVID shots to vulnerable populations, and offer vaccines to include anyone who turns 12 before the end of the year.

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