Health minister urges Quebec professional orders to get tough on unvaccinated members

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Quebec's professional health-care orders should make COVID-19 vaccination a condition for their members to remain in good standing, Health Minister Christian Dubé said Friday.

Dubé's comments were the latest attempt by government to put pressure on health-care workers ahead of its Oct. 15 deadline, after which unvaccinated employees in the health sector face suspension without pay.

He said groups representing health professionals such as nurses and respiratory therapists should consider following the lead of the province's doctors order, the Collège des médecins, which has announced it would suspend the right to practise medicine of any member who refuses to be vaccinated.

"It’s up to (the health orders) to take a clear position that people need to be vaccinated to practise in the health field," Dubé told reporters in Montreal.

He also suggested the government and professional orders were considering tightening regulations to prevent some front-line health-care workers from taking jobs in the private sector where they won't have direct interaction with patients.

"There’s a position that's being developed by the different professional orders, and I think that people who thought they could maybe go practise elsewhere might face surprises in the coming days," Dubé said.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 643 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and five more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Overall hospitalizations rose by five, to 302, while the number of people in intensive care dropped by two, to 86.

Dubé said earlier this week about 13,000 health workers in the province had not received a single dose of vaccine, and he said the government would present a "contingency plan" next week to address how the network would cope with labour shortages.

On Friday, he said that between 300 and 400 health workers every day are receiving a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and he urged all other unvaccinated workers to follow suit to avoid service disruptions.

"Continue to go get vaccinated," he said. "It’s the best solution to arrive at a contingency plan with the fewest impacts possible."

Quebec's public health institute says 89.8 per cent of the population 12 and over has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 86.3 per cent are fully vaccinated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2021.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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