Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday Ontario won’t make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for those working in health care, suggesting doing so could jeopardize patient care in the province.
“The impact of the potential departure of tens of thousands of health care workers is weighed against the small number of outbreaks that are currently active in Ontario’s hospitals,” Ford said in a news release.
“Having looked at the evidence, our government has decided to maintain its flexible approach by leaving human resourcing decisions up to individual hospitals.”
Ford said hospitals have strong enough outbreak controls at place that even when COVID-19 spreads at their facilities there is “little if any impact on patient care.”
Health Minister Christine Elliott is set to hold a 3:30 p.m. ET news conference to provide more details about the decision, which had been weeks in the making.
Several hospitals, including Toronto’s University Health Network, have already put mandatory vaccination policies in place.
In a pinned tweet, Dr. Michael Warner, an ICU doctor at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, said it doesn’t make sense to allow unvaccinated workers to interact with patients.
“We need a universal, mandatory vaccination policy for all hospitals and long-term care homes in Ontario,” he said.
“That’s the safest thing for patients.”
Ford’s announcement came hours after the province’s top doctor unveiled a plan to provide booster shots of vaccine to all Ontarians over the age of 12 by early next year. Reporters asked Dr. Kieran Moore about a vaccine mandate for health care workers but he did not provide an answer.