Health-care workers in Saskatchewan will need to provide proof they’re vaccinated against COVID-19 or a negative test before going to work.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced the new policy in line with the provincial government’s proof-of-vaccine mandate that came into effect Friday.
The SHA estimates one in five employees aren’t vaccinated, leaving both patients and other employees at risk.
It’s gotten to the point some patients are actually requesting they’re only cared for by someone fully immunized, according to Dr. Kevin Wasko.
“We also are seeing increasingly people who work in the health-care system, and have done their part by being vaccinated, are requesting that their co-workers be vaccinated,” he said.
The new policy means anyone contracted by the SHA will need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test, or a medical exemption.
Wasko said there have been outbreaks at Saskatchewan long-term care homes because some staff were not vaccinated. He said it’s hurting more than their patients.
“There are cases where a health-care worker has brought COVID into the workplace and it has resulted in another health-care worker getting sick with COVID,” he said.
This will be phased in, Wasko said, giving unvaccinated employees one last chance. Employees need to submit a declaration form stating their vaccination status by mid-October.
Anyone opting to be tested will do so before every shift at their own expense. Wasko said he’s hoping this encourages unvaccinated colleagues to get the jab.
“Proving that someone doesn’t have COVID on a rapid test prior to a shift is not as good as being vaccinated,” he said.
“If people refuse to comply with that measure there will be other consequences that will be outlined through collective bargaining agreements and practitioner-staff bylaws.”
Being the biggest employer in the province, the SHA said getting everyone on the same page will be a massive undertaking, which is why it is being phased in.
The SHA said it expects the policy to be completely in effect by early November.