With the Premier of Ontario’s announcement that he won’t make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for those working in health care, where does that leave health care providers? The Premier and his Minister of Health determined that imposing a vaccine mandate could jeopardize patient care in the province, because hospitals would experience “significant” job losses. However, many hospitals have proceeded with vaccine mandates for their workers, in some cases permitting staff to work without vaccines but only with evidence of a negative Covid-19 test. Health care providers considering implementing a vaccination policy must consider their obligations to their staff, patients and profession. Many health professional regulatory bodies have also provided guidance by way of policy or guidelines to members regarding this issue, and those documents need to be implemented into any clinic or office policy.
Providers whose staff work closely with patients must weigh the risks to patients and staff of having unvaccinated staff and the reputational risks that may flow from even having unvaccinated staff working with patients – let alone if a patient becomes infected with Covid from attending at the professional’s practice – against the risk of loss of staff members and employment law challenges due to the imposition of a vaccine mandate. Factors in deciding how to proceed include:
- Whether staff can perform the duties of their job from home
- The practice environment and whether other precautions can prevent transmission
- The proximity in which staff work with patients and other staff
- Whether testing can adequately address the risks of transmission
Providers will also have to consider the alternatives to and consequences of failure to comply with a vaccine mandate.
Contact us for assistance in navigating this challenging situation.
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