TORONTO – The Canadian Press has learned that Ontario is considering introducing a set of policies requiring employers in the education sector and several health care facilities to develop strict COVID-19 vaccination policies for their staff .
A high-level government source familiar with the decision said the cabinet approved the plans on Monday evening, with an announcement from the province’s top doctor expected on Tuesday.
The source said Dr Kieran Moore’s guideline covering hospitals, ambulance services and community and home care service providers will not make vaccination mandatory, but those who refuse vaccines will be regularly tested for the virus. .
The policy will be similar to the one already in place in long-term care homes across the province.
Health facility staff will need to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a medical reason for not being vaccinated.
People who do not get the vaccine will need to complete an education session on the COVID-19 vaccination and will be systematically tested for the virus before coming to work.
The healthcare sector directive will enter into force on 7 September.
Some hospitals in Ontario, such as the University Health Network of Toronto, have already put in place staff vaccination policies in line with the government’s plans.
The source said the Department of Education also intends to introduce a similar COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees of all state-funded school boards and licensed daycares.
Staff in these areas who do not get the COVID-19 vaccine will need to undergo rapid COVID-19 tests on a regular basis.
There are also plans to introduce vaccination policies in other high-risk settings such as post-secondary institutions, retirement homes, group homes, children’s treatment centers, women’s shelters and foster homes. institutional.
The policies are expected to be announced amid growing calls from healthcare groups and opposition politicians that the government demand COVID-19 vaccines for workers in high-risk settings like education and healthcare .
Premier Doug Ford has previously said he will not make vaccines mandatory in any sector because he considers it a constitutional right not to be vaccinated.
Ford has personally been fully immunized against the virus and regularly encourages residents of Ontario to receive both doses.
The changes also come as the province enters what prominent experts have said as a fourth wave of a pandemic driven by the more infectious Delta variant, despite high overall vaccine coverage in the eligible population.
The latest data show that the majority of recently reported infections are in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
Moore said he expects cases to increase further in the fall when people move indoors, especially among youth and young adults who are least vaccinated and will congregate in wards. class in September.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 17, 2021.