A group of Canada’s top long-term care operators will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall.
Chartwell Retirement Residences, Extendicare, and Responsive Group Inc. and Rivera Inc. And Sienna Senior Living released a joint statement Thursday about the plan.
The group says that employees who are not fully vaccinated by October 12 will be given unpaid leave.
Vaccination will also be required for new employees, students and other employees working with companies.
Home operators say they do not expect the new policy to affect employment levels.
“With infection rates rising again in communities across the country, unvaccinated employees are likely to run the virus,” the group said in a statement. “The safety of our residents in long-term care homes and retirement homes, who trust us to provide the care and services they need, is paramount.
“This policy will increase their level of safety and improve the quality of life for residents by reducing the need for isolation and disruption of daily activities that result from the outbreak restrictions.”
Pay the counties
The timing comes as more counties discuss vaccine mandates, passports and certifications. In fact, the October 12 date was set by British Columbia officials earlier this month as they announced a new public health order that would make vaccination mandatory and an employment requirement for those working in long-term care and assisted living facilities.
Even in Ontario, which appears to be flouting the idea of a provincial-level vaccine passport, the government said last week that it is. directive version For hospitals, community and home care providers to establish strict immunization and testing policies by September 7 for all staff, staff, contractors, students and volunteers.
Thousands of long-term care residents have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began as homes across the country have dealt with a major outbreak.
Family members of long-term residents pushed for authorization and enhanced safety measures, but following the BC announcement, the CUPE Hospital Staff Union (HEU) warned of potential unintended consequences for staffing levels.
“In a recent survey of HEU members, 24 percent said they were likely to leave health care within the next two years as a result of their experiences during the pandemic,” the union said, adding that it encouraged its members to get vaccinated. “So while many health care workers would support this measure, it would be controversial and could prompt some to quit their jobs altogether.”
A report released earlier this year by the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI), noted that given the overall proportion of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes – 69 percent at the time – Canada had the world’s worst epidemiological record in terms of Respect for long-term care facilities.
The CIHI also says that 54 percent of about 2,100 long-term care homes in Canada privately owned, with a slight majority of this total being for-profit companies. It says that Ontario has the highest percentage of private ownership within the industry, with 57 percent of homes private for-profit and 27 percent of the province’s total private non-profit organizations.
The conditions described at the facilities early in the pandemic sparked public outrage and led to political inquiries in counties such as Nova Scotia, Ontario And Quebec, as well as recommendations for nationwide reform in industry.