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Letter to Premier Ford regarding province-wide vaccination mandate in hospitals

Dear Premier,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on a province-wide vaccination mandate in hospitals.

We support mandatory vaccinations for healthcare staff and visitors in hospitals and a required COVID-19 test for patients. It is critical to do all we can to prevent transmission in hospitals and ensure we protect capacity. Hospitals are where providers and other staff are in regular contact with patients, and where patients are often most vulnerable. It is essential patients are comfortable pursuing care at a hospital when needed.

By not having a vaccine mandate, the risk to employees’ and patients’ health from outbreaks and the risks to staffing shortages are significant and unpredictable. Challenges associated with mandatory vaccinations are more predictable and less likely to impact patient care; its benefits outweigh concerns about possible impact on health human resources.

It is critical that direction on mandatory vaccinations come from the province through a clear, well communicated, province-wide mandate. This will make it easier for staff and allow hospitals to focus on what they are there to do: provide patient care.

We also support the OHA assertion that there is a need for a system-wide mandatory vaccine mandate for all healthcare workers, including those in primary care, to ensure that we have a consistent approach and protection for the most vulnerable in all parts of the healthcare system. To help support all healthcare organizations with a mandatory vaccine mandate, we have been calling for the extension of Directive #6 to provide employers with the levers they need to compel their staff to comply. Within an equity framework for a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, we recommend that organizations retain the ability to address implementation issues according to their own circumstances and needs, including timing and consequences for failing to meet these requirements.

Premier, your concern about health human resources is well warranted and one we share. However, it would be remiss not to point out that this workforce has been feeling undervalued throughout the pandemic. We would ask you also consider withdrawing Bill 124 to support people on the frontlines who are exhibiting unprecedented challenges during this pandemic. This is where our concerns lie the most in retaining staff, not a mandatory vaccination policy.

Thank you for seeking our feedback. Please see our responses below to your questions, which we are happy to discuss further.

Yours Sincerely,

Sarah Hobbs
CEO, Alliance for Healthier Communities

Kavita Mehta
CEO, Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario

Caroline Lidstone-Jones
CEO, Indigenous Primary Health Care Council

Katie Hogue
President Elect, Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic Association

Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier, Minister of Health
Dr. Catherine Zahn, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Health
Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ministry of Health Patrick Dicerni, Assistant Deputy Minister and Executive Officer
Nadia Surani, Director, Primary Health Care Branch

Copy of letter and responses to the questions on mandatory vaccinations in hospitals

Wednesday, October 20, 2021