The Ottawa Hospital has apologized to unvaccinated staff after an email was sent out offering a vaccine education session with each recipient's name visible to others.
The email was sent from one of the hospital's software systems and recalled immediately, the hospital said in a statement emailed to CBC, adding all copies of the email have been deleted.
The incident was investigated by The Ottawa Hospital's Information and Privacy Office and reported to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the hospital said.
The hospital says it expects all staff to be vaccinated and educating unvaccinated staff is part of the process to achieve that goal.
Lou Burri, president of CUPE 4000, says the privacy breach is a barrier to achieving that goal.
"They didn't feel confident that the information that they were providing was going to be kept confidential. And this happens, and it just reaffirmed what they were thinking," he said.
"Now it's going to be pretty hard to try to convince people that it was just a one-time mishap and it won't happen again."
Burri, whose union represents 3,800 clerical, trades and support staff at the hospital, was surprised to hear about the breach because he said the union and hospital had discussed privacy protocols the week prior.
He says there are about 400 of the hospital's around 11,600 staff who remain unvaccinated.
Burri would have preferred a more personalized approach to the education process instead of a mass email and the union encourages all members to get vaccinated, but won't tell them it's mandatory.
"People should choose whether or not they want to be vaccinated. But when you make a choice, there are repercussions and we have to deal with those down the road," he said.
The Ottawa Hospital's vaccine policy required all staff to have their first dose by Sept. 7 and their second by Oct. 15.