RNAO deeply disappointed with Premier Ford’s decision on mandatory vaccination

Toronto
Nov. 3, 2021

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is deeply disappointed by Premier Doug Ford’s decision to not move forward with mandating vaccinations for all health-care workers.

“This decision by Premier Ford is a disgrace and shows a lack of courage to do what’s right for Ontario’s patients and workers. To not implement a province-wide vaccination policy for all health-care workers puts the burden unfairly on employers and imposes a risk of infection on Ontarians receiving health services,” says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun. “The majority of hospital CEOs have already weighed in and provided their support for mandatory vaccination for health-care workers. To not act immediately and go against the evidence is irresponsible.”

RNAO says the premier’s decision is mismanagement for several reasons. Premier Ford’s own minister of long-term care, Rod Phillips, announced on Oct. 1 that vaccination for all nursing home staff would be required by Nov. 15. “The premier supported this call, as did RNAO,” says Grinspun, adding the association has been calling for mandatory vaccination for all health-care workers since July. The premier is also aware that some large hospitals in Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa have already said they will move ahead with dismissal of those who choose to remain unvaccinated. He supports this position, and yet will not mandate it across the province. 

In his statement today, Premier Ford expressed concern about the impact of the potential departure of “tens of thousands” of health-care workers with the mandating of COVID-19 vaccinations – a position Health Minister Christine Elliott refuted at the press conference that followed. RNAO knows that the main reason health-care workers – and in particular nurses – are leaving their work in Ontario is Bill 124 – and we have repeatedly urged Premier Ford to repeal this bill.  

“Premier, you say you are concerned with nurses leaving the profession, but you fail to mention that Bill 124 plays a huge role in the retention of nurses in Ontario,” says RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth. “Bill 124 caps compensation increases for nurses and other public sectors at just one per cent, which means nurses’ incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living. Nurses are exhausted and burnt out and a large part of why they are leaving is Bill 124. We invite you to join us on Nov. 14 at noon at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto to hear from nurses protesting against this legislation and the impact it is having on Ontarians and the profession.”

Mandatory vaccination directives have increased the uptake of vaccination in the general public and it is clear that policies, firm deadlines, mandatory education and easy access to COVID-19 vaccinations work to increase vaccination rates. 

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 TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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Victoria Alarcon
Communications Officer/Writer
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)