'Public policy gut punch for patients, families’: Ontario government slammed for not requiring hospital workers to take COVID-19 vaccine

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Ontario's Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, fielded questions about the province's decision to not mandate COVID-19 vaccination for hospital workers.

"We decided that this is the right decision for right now here in Ontario," Elliott told reporters on Wednesday. "While individual hospitals can make their own determination."

The concern that we had that we would lose some of our precious health human resources, compared to a relatively small number of outbreaks, that’s why the determination was made not to proceed with a mandatory policy at this time… We’ll see what happens as we go further into the winter.Ontario's Deputy Premier and Minister of Health

Elliott pointed to other provinces to also defend Ontario's decision.

"We know that in British Columbia, for example, they’ve had to cancel some of their scheduled surgeries because they’ve got about 3,300 workers that are out on leave now and are being requested to have vaccinations, and Quebec has just announced that they are taking another look at their original mandatory vaccination policy," she said.

"We still support the decision of individuals hospitals to do as they see best."

While Elliott did not provide specific details, she did confirm that there were individuals hospitals that indicated they were "very concerned about the loss of health human resources."

"From the beginning, the health and wellbeing of all Ontarians has been our priority and continues to be," she said. "So it’s the patients that we are protecting by having the employees tested frequently for COVID, but also for the thousands of patients have been waiting for well over a year to have procedures done that are painful and debilitating."

"We want to make sure that we can move forward with that because while it’s terrible to lose someone from COVID, it’s also terrible to lose someone from something that hasn’t been diagnosed early enough or hasn’t been operated on early enough."

People in Ontario, include health professionals, are taking to social media to respond to the news.