Ottawa hospitals put dozens of unvaccinated staff on unpaid leave

Some 47 staff at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario have been placed on unpaid leave as of Friday for not getting COVID-19 vaccinations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Multiple hospitals and health institutions in Ottawa said Friday they’ve put dozens of staff members on unpaid leave because they have not gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.

Staff at the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH), the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the Bruyère health programs all had until Oct. 15 to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

While all three institutions report vaccination rates above 90 per cent among staff, each said in statements Friday that numerous individuals chose not to get the shots.

The highest reported number of unvaccinated staff so far is at Bruyère, where 119 employees are now on unpaid leave.

Fifty of those employees were full-time or part-time while 69 were casual, representing nine per cent of the entire casual workforce at the institution, which provides long-term care, rehabilitation services and academic programs in association with the University of Ottawa.

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Across the institution, 91 per cent of staff are considered fully vaccinated with an additional three per cent “on track” to have both doses in the coming days, Bruyère said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with these team members and hope all of them will choose to get vaccinated so they can resume working at Bruyère,” the statement read.

At QCH, 37 staff have been placed on unpaid leave, spread across clinical and non-clinical roles.

That includes five full-time employees, with the remaining affected staff listed as part-time or casual.

Eleven nurses are being placed on leave, two of whom are full-time.

“We have plans in place to fill any gaps in the schedule. We do not anticipate any impact to our patient care and services,” QCH said in a statement, noting that 98 per cent of the hospital’s staff are fully vaccinated.

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“We value each and every member of our team and don’t want to see any leave. We are hopeful they reconsider their decision so that they can remain employed at Queensway Carleton Hospital,” the statement read.

At CHEO, 47 employees are being placed on leave, 18 of whom are full-time.

The children’s hospital meanwhile reports a 98.7 per cent vaccination rate among its staff.

​​”We hope all of these people will choose to come back to work at CHEO by getting vaccinated in the next two weeks. If they don’t do so by October 29, their employment at CHEO will come to an end,” CHEO’s statement read.

Other hospitals in Ottawa had also set Oct. 15 deadlines for staff vaccinations but have yet to release statistics about those placed on leave.

The east-end Montfort hospital is expected to release data about unvaccinated staff members next week.

The Ottawa Hospital also had an Oct. 15 deadline for staff to be fully vaccinated, but that date was extended to Nov. 1 a few weeks ago, a hospital spokesperson said.


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