Toronto hospital network considering placing unvaccinated staff on unpaid leave

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Ontario unveils new COVID-19 safety measures ahead of ‘difficult’ fall
WATCH ABOVE: The province’s mandated vaccine policy requires hospitals, as well as home-care and community service providers to either make sure staff are fully vaccinated, ensure they have a medical reason as why they’re not, or ensure they take an educational session about vaccines. Kamil Karamali reports – Aug 17, 2021

A Toronto hospital network is considering placing staff who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 on unpaid leave, a spokesperson says.

Gillian Howard, a spokesperson for the University Health Network, confirmed the news in an email on Wednesday.

“We currently have a policy which mirrors the directive which was announced on Tuesday by the province’s chief medical officer of health,” Howard wrote.

“That directive is regarded as a minimum for designated high-risk organization but there is flexibility to do more — which is what we are contemplating.”

On Tuesday, the province announced that it is mandating COVID-19 vaccination policies for high-risk settings, which includes hospitals.

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Individuals will need to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, a medical reason for not having COVID-19 vaccines, or they will need to complete a COVID-19 vaccine educational session.

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For those who do not provide proof of receiving two COVID-19 vaccines, they will be required to participate in “regular” antigen testing. However, it wasn’t immediately clear how often that screening would need to take place.

Click to play video: 'Ontario to mandate COVID-19 vaccine policies in high-risk settings'
Ontario to mandate COVID-19 vaccine policies in high-risk settings

Howard said at UHN, between 92 and 94 per cent of staff are vaccinated, meaning around 950 people are not.

Those who aren’t vaccinated have been completing testing at home 48 hours before each shift, Howard said.

“We are looking at moving to having all staff fully vaccinated under our policy and if someone does not wish to do so, they will be on unpaid leave,” Howard continued.

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“The goal is to provide the maximum safety for patients and staff, particularly with the Delta variant which is highly contagious.”

— With files from Nick Westoll

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