Hundreds of Ottawa hospital workers on unpaid leave for being unvaccinated

·3 min read
Ottawa's Queensway Carleton Hospital says 37 of its 2,400 staff have not been fully vaccinated, including five full-time staff members. Each has been suspended without pay. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)
Ottawa's Queensway Carleton Hospital says 37 of its 2,400 staff have not been fully vaccinated, including five full-time staff members. Each has been suspended without pay. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)

Hundreds of hospital workers across Ottawa have refused to roll up their sleeves to comply with the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination deadline, which means they will be suspended and placed on unpaid leave.

Most of the hospitals announced mandatory vaccinations for their staff with an Oct. 15 deadline, with few exceptions. While the city's hospitals say the vast majority have complied, there are still more than 200 who have been placed on unpaid suspensions.

The Ottawa Hospital imposed a later deadline of Nov. 1 for staff members at its three campuses to provide their vaccination status.

CHEO

CHEO, eastern Ontario's children's hospital in Ottawa, says 98.7 per cent of its 3,865 staff members are fully vaccinated, while three have medical exemptions. The remaining 47 employees — including 29 part-time and casual employees — are being put on temporary, unpaid leave.

"We hope all of these people will choose to come back to work at CHEO by getting vaccinated in the next two weeks. If they don't do so by Oct. 29, their employment at CHEO will come to an end," the hospital wrote in a statement.

Queensway Carleton Hospital

Of the Queensway Carleton Hospital's approximately 2,400 staff members, 37 have yet to get fully vaccinated — including 11 nurses, two of which are full-time, and three other full-time staff — and wil be placed on unpaid leave, the hospital said.

"Our team is doing the right thing to care for our patients. As a hospital, our primary focus has to be on the safety of patients and this is an effective tool to ensure that safety," said Greg Hedgecoe, the hospital's vice-president of organizational effectiveness.

Hedgecoe said the hospital has contingency plans in place to ensure staffing levels are maintained if the few dozen employees are let go.

"Ultimately, becoming vaccinated at our hospital is a condition of employment and so if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they'll no longer be employees of our hospital."

Montfort Hospital

The Montfort Hospital says a status report on the number of vaccinated staff is expected by Monday, but most of its 3,000 employees, including physicians, midwives, volunteers, medical residents and interns have submitted their vaccine status.

The Royal Ottawa

The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre told CBC that 97 per cent of its 905 full-time staff members are fully vaccinated. That leaves at least two dozen employees who have yet to receive both doses.

Bruyère

Bruyère hospital and continuing care has the most unvaccinated employees among health-care facilities in Ottawa. The hospital and care facility said 91 per cent of its staff are fully vaccinated, while another three per cent are expected to be fully vaccinated "in the coming days."

"A small percentage of staff have chosen not to comply with our mandatory vaccine policy," the health-care provider wrote. The hospital originally reported that 50 full- and part-time employees and 69 casual employees were unvaccinated and had been placed on unpaid leave.

It then announced Friday afternoon 12 of those employees had received their vaccines and are now allowed back at work.

"We hope all of our staff on leave will make this choice," it wrote.

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