About 160 veteran nurses, personal support staff and healthcare technicians, along with their families, gathered in person or via videoconference at a church hall in Port Perry, Ontario on a snowy afternoon this past Saturday.
These grieving individuals have a message for patients waiting for health care in the province: we want to work on the front lines, but it’s closed.
Lori Turnbull told CTV National News: “I am ready, willing and able to work. But no one will hire her.
The 58-year-old used to work in surgery and rehabilitation but was fired a year ago by a hospital in London, Ont., after 30 years.
In fact, all the healthcare workers in this unusual audience were fired after refusing to get two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, as required by all 140 Ontario public hospitals. and some nursing homes and nursing homes.
Casie Desveaux, a nurse from Hamilton, Ont., told CTV National News: “I’ve worked in emergency medicine… for 20 years.” “I gave my all to that work.”
Now she says she works in an office for her brother. She knows her hospital is still severely understaffed.
“I’m worried… for the staff there… It’s scary,” she said.
The team at the church gathering wanted Ontarians to know that there are experienced frontline workers who want to return to work but are thwarted by vaccine policies imposed by hospitals in the province, despite Ontario itself does not require healthcare workers to be vaccinated.
“I think people already know that we were fired or fired,” Anna Luxton, an emergency nurse, told CTV National News. “But I think since the province said they lifted the missions last March [people] figured we’d go back to work. And the reality is we don’t have one.”
Since being forced out of healthcare, Luxton has worked on a dairy farm and worked as a waitress but says she wants to return to frontline care.
Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon no longer require healthcare workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
During a briefing in February, Ontario Health Officer Kieran Moore said it was time to consider scrapping vaccination policies in different areas.
“They served their purpose,” Moore said. “They must be removed in a timely manner.”
However, even though Ontario abandoned the mandate of the health sector in March, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) continues to recommend the continuation of mandatory immunization policies among the province’s 140 public hospitals.
Provincial officials say hospitals can chart their own course in this regard.
Bill Campbell, media relations coordinator for the Ontario Ministry of Health, told CTV National: “As set forth in the Public Hospitals Act, hospital managers are responsible for the day-to-day management of their hospitals, including policies related to human resources. News in an emailed statement.
At a church gathering, a nurse talked about how her old medical facility was recently short of 64 staff.
“And here we are?” she speaks.
Some other medical staff who spoke up burst into tears.
“This is our profession, our livelihood… it’s our passion,” said one.
Another added: “What I find so hypocritical is that the facility I was fired from is open to unvaccinated visitors and unvaccinated family members… Why don’t I? Can I go back to work without being vaccinated?
There are no official figures on how many healthcare workers have been laid off or laid off because of the vaccination policy.
Helena Baker, a registered nurse, told CTV National News: “This is just a small fraction of the medical staff who are laid off or laid off… I’m sure there will be more people joining the line. us if they can.
OHA did not respond to multiple emails from CTV National News asking to explain why it recommends continuing employee immunization policies and any scientific rationale behind it.
In a directive to hospitals considering hiring unvaccinated staff in December, officials wrote: “OHA believes that COVID-19 vaccination policies in Ontario hospitals should be maintained. because they provide the highest level of protection for patients and healthcare workers.”
“This is not about patient safety,” Rafael Gomez, director of the Center for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto, told CTV National News. “Patient safety is compromised when we don’t have frontline workers dealing with heart attacks, dealing with illness. This makes no sense.”
One expert said the Ontario government has the power to force hospitals to cancel vaccination policies.
“Legally, the province could have ordered no mandate, but they didn’t,” human rights lawyer Lisa Bildy told CTV National News from her home in London, Ont. “In Alberta, the government has, in effect, told Alberta Health Services that it needs to get unvaccinated workers back to work. We didn’t do that here. I’m not quite sure why.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced last week that the province would import nurses from elsewhere in Canada to help deal with a staffing crisis at hospitals.
“To nurses, doctors and healthcare workers across Canada: if you are thinking of making Ontario your new home, now is the time to make it happen,” said Ford. .
According to Arthur Schafer, founding director of the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, the refusal of Ontario hospitals to hire unvaccinated nurses, even after provincial regulation on Vaccines for healthcare workers have been abolished, which is confusing. .
He told CTV National: “Without clear evidence on public health grounds to refuse to hire unvaccinated healthcare workers – at a time of severe staff shortages – hospitals should welcome or welcome back every Ontario nurse who is qualified and available to work. News.
“Refusing to hire someone without solid scientific evidence that they pose an unacceptable risk to the lives and health of patients and colleagues is bad public health policy. bad and appear to violate the human rights of those involved.”
Meanwhile, healthcare workers who lost their jobs due to their vaccine status said they were in financial trouble, as their contracts were terminated due to misconduct – an intentional act – that could limit a person’s access to social supports.
“I cannot collect unemployment benefits. I cannot collect benefits. We were left in the cold,” said one attendee at the church gathering.
These health workers can work in other provinces, even higher places.
“Yes, I can be contacted weekly,” said Anna, a veteran registered nurse who asked CTV National News not to use her real name. “I’ve been offered many contracts in Alberta… the pay is great, but again, do I want to leave my family behind? Time is not great.
Instead, she works in a grocery store. Others said they worked in veterinary clinics, retail and cleaning jobs.
Both the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) and the Canadian Nurses Association declined to comment to CTV National News. They say their focus is on fighting for better working conditions and wages. Nurses refusing to vaccinate are not a priority.
But in a press release from the ONA, officials said: “Nurses are leaving massively under the pretext of overwork, exhaustion, mental breakdown.”
The release adds that Ontario will need to hire 24,000 registered nurses just to match the nation’s average safe nurse-to-patient ratio.