At a time when the federal government is mandating vaccinations for all of its public workers and municipalities, such as Toronto is doing the same, the Ontario government must move speedily to require all health-care and education workers across the province be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) commended Rod Phillips, minister of long-term care (LTC), for his Oct. 1 announcement mandating all nursing home staff be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15. RNAO says that directive must extend uniformly to all health-care workers across the entire system. All Ontarians and workers deserve the same protection. The only exception should be for those who meet the province’s strict criteria for medical exemption.
To ensure a safe and successful academic year, RNAO is also urging that same requirement apply to all educational staff in child-care centres and schools.
“Quite frankly, it defies logic that the province is leaving the responsibility of making sure other health-care workers are vaccinated up to their employers (hospitals, home-care agencies, primary care clinics and other outpatient services), while making it mandatory only for those working in nursing homes. Every health-care worker who sees patients must be fully vaccinated. Period. And, we have been asking for this since June,” says RNAO’s CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun, adding health-care workers “have told RNAO they expect their colleagues to be fully protected against the virus and a government mandate will help achieve that.”
Putting the onus on health-care employers sparked a series of protests outside hospitals last month by so-called anti-vaxxers intent on spreading misinformation and propaganda about vaccine mandates. RNAO says health workers need better protection. And that’s why it is re-issuing its August plea to Premier Doug Ford that the government immediately establish safe zones around all health-care and education workplaces to protect patients, students and workers.
“Health-care workers and educators deserve a safe work environment as we continue to navigate though this pandemic. It’s also essential that people who want to protest be able to do so, but far away from these institutions,” says RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth. “No one should be forced to run through the gauntlet to enter a health-care facility or school. It’s frightening, intimidating, and no patient, family member or staff should be subjected to the outrageous behaviour people have already witnessed.”
To press on its demands, RNAO has issued an Action Alert imploring Premier Ford to act. “We have been in a long, difficult and deadly battle with COVID-19 and its variants,” says Hoffarth. “We need to win and put an end to this fight with COVID-19,” she emphasizes, urging everyone to join RNAO in its call to extend mandatory vaccinations to all health-care and education workers and to establish safe zones around their places of work.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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