As deadline for vaccine mandates draws near across the country, Canada’s health and long-term care industries are bracing for staff shortages and layoffs. Also, unions are pushing federal and provincial governments to soften hard-line stances.
Canada Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau unveiled one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the world last week as he said that unvaccinated federal employees are at the risk of being sent on unpaid leave.
In addition, he made COVID-19 shots mandatory for air, train and ship passengers.
If this mandatory unpaid leave happens, it could further burden already-burdened occupations. For instance, in hospitals and nursing homes, a shortage of workers would strain the overburdened workforce which is now dealing with nearly two years of the pandemic.
Assistant Professor of Public Health at the University of British Columbia, Devon Greyson, commented that it is not clear how the workers will respond.
He stated that it would have an impact on people’s health, saying that, “A shortage of workers can mean people’s health and well being. It’s scary”.
“We’re in an ethical situation where it’s also scary not to ensure that all health workers are vaccinated. So it’s a bit of a Catch-22“, Greyson added.
The layoffs have begun gradually as an hospital in southern Ontario sacked 57 employees last week, representing 2.5 per cent of staff after its vaccine mandate came into effect.
Another long-term care home in Toronto put 36% of its staff on unpaid leave after they refused to get vaccinated.
Quebec, the largest province area in Canada, is offering C$15,000 bonuses to assist in attracting and retaining about 4,300 full-time nurses. The Province health minister, Christian Dubé says that about 25,000 healthcare workers who have not received the vaccine ahead of the October 15 deadline might have to face suspension without pay.