'Important measures' coming for 15,000 unvaccinated Quebec health-care workers, minister says
MONTREAL -- A looming court case, suggestions that forcing thousands of health-care workers away from their post will cause chaos in the network and calls from health-care workers' unions and opposition parties to halt Friday's deadline for mandatory vaccination has not swayed Quebec's Health Minister Christian Dube.
Dube posted a message to the 15,000 unvaccinated health-care workers on Twitter that "important measures to reorganize services" will be announced this week for those who are not double-vaxxed by Oct. 15.
"The position of the MS (health ministry) is maintained on Oct. 15 for the 330k employees," he wrote Saturday night. "The only way to reduce the impacts is to get vaccinated."
The post came hours after CTV News reported that a Montreal-based lawyer is planning a legal challenge to suspend the vaccine mandate.
The plan, first announced in September, requires health-care employees to be fully vaccinated by the deadline or be suspended without pay.
"The negative impact on seniority, for holidays, on pension plans -- there are a lot of negatives that maybe people have not considered before saying 'well, I'm taking a break,'" said the health minister.
DRUMMONDVILLE YOUTH PROTECTION FEARS STAFF SHORTAGE
Young protections services in Drummondville said this week that the mandatory vaccination deadline will risk crippling the team.
accordintg to a health and social services union, APTS-MCQ, said the order will force five employees to the sidelines and seven to be absent, taking 12 of the team's 17 workers out of the field.
If the deadline remains, there will be just eight social workers for over 470 cases, accordintg to a health and social services union (APTS-MCQ) spokesperson Jean-Christophe Côté-Benoit.
“We want the best for these teenagers. And right now, we can’t offer the best for them,” said Côté-Benoit, who says that of Drummondville’s 22 social workers, six are not fully vaccinated, and eight are on sick leave.
"This is extremely worrisome for families and we fear that it will be even more difficult to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable children in our society, who are at the heart of the mission of youth centres," said APTS-MCQ director Manon Hamel.
"The entire youth centre mission has been in severe labour shortage for years. It will be extremely difficult for the employer to make staff moves without risking putting other teams in service breakdown."
While some call on the government to push the deadline, others say mandatory vaccinations are crucial to limit the spread of the virus.
"While there may be some consequences to a vaccine mandate like this, I don’t think there’s much of an alternative option out there," said cardiologist Dr. Christopher Labos.
He says there are many unvaccinated health-care workers who aren't necessarily against vaccination. Rather, they need an incentive to get the shot.
"Whether they want to travel, to go social venues, or whether it’s part of a vaccine mandate at work, I think that gives them to motivation to go and get vaccinated," he said.
Quebec reported 612 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 602 on Saturday.
Hospitalizations dropped by one on Sunday marking the second straight day hospitalizations have dropped.
There are now 296 people receiving care for COVID-19 in Quebec hospitals, including 80 who are in intensive care units.