Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his government is not considering making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for health-care workers, saying it is their “constitutional right” to decide whether or not they want to get the shot.
Ford made the remarks during a press conference Thursday afternoon in response to a question from a reporter.
“I think it’s their constitutional right to take it or not take it,” Ford said.
“These are super bright people that work their backs off — the unsung heroes as I say. The PSWs and the nurses and the docs, you know they understand healthcare a lot better than I do. So we encourage them to do it. I’ve been up here for months begging, pleading everyone to get it but no one should be forced to do anything … So for one reason or another, for health reasons or otherwise, that’s going to be up to the people.”
In recent days, France and Greece have announced they are making vaccines mandatory for health workers.
The Ford government has rejected the idea of vaccine passports as a whole, with Ford saying Thursday that “we aren’t going to have a split society.”
The premier later added that his government won’t be providing guidance to private companies regarding whether or not they can require staff to be vaccinated.
“That’s going to be up to individual private companies,” Ford said.
“I’m not in favour of a mandatory certification. I’m just not and neither, by the way, is the chief medical officer and I’ve always said from day one I listen to my chief medical officer. He’s saying there’s no reason for it, another doc on the vaccine table said he wasn’t in favour of it and I’m not in favour of it either. Folks just please, go get vaccinated that’s all I can ask.”
The province is set to move into Step 3 of its reopening plan on Friday, which will see gyms and restaurants resume indoor operations while cinemas, theatres and other indoor attractions can welcome customers once more after months of being shut down.
Some businesses preparing to reopen indoor services are grappling with whether to ask staff and patrons if they’d been vaccinated.
So far, 79.6 per cent of Ontarians aged 18-plus have received their first dose while 59.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.
— With files from The Canadian Press