Windsor hospital CEO firm on vaccine mandate despite province not following suit

·2 min read
Windsor Regional Hospital has terminated 62 employees over its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy as of last week. (Sanjay Maru/CBC - image credit)
Windsor Regional Hospital has terminated 62 employees over its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy as of last week. (Sanjay Maru/CBC - image credit)

The head of Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) says a decision from the province not to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for health-care workers "sends the wrong message."

President and CEO David Musyj expressed disappointment that the province wouldn't be following suit with WRH — and the majority of hospitals in Ontario — in mandating that employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

Musyj said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Friday that the provincial announcement earlier this week changes nothing for the hospital.

"When we put our policy into place, we weren't expecting a mandate; it wasn't conditional upon a mandate," he said.

"And ourselves along with the other hospitals in Erie St. Clair [Local Health Integration Network], and pretty much every other hospital in the province of Ontario that has implemented a similar policy ... everyone has stood up and said they're going to continue on and nothing changes."

Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters on Wednesday that the province decided not to impose a mandate because hospitals would experience "significant" job losses.

"As government, we have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians and so that's why this decision is the right decision for Ontario right now," she said.

A statement from Premier Doug Ford pointed to news of surgery cancellations and diagnostic tests in B.C. due to staff shortages after its vaccine mandate took effect. More than 3,300 health-care workers are on unpaid leave in that province.

CBC News
CBC News

Musyj took issue with the Ontario government's logic, saying that one just has to look at the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak on things like surgery cancellations.

"An outbreak in a hospital, in our hospital even, has resulted in cancelled surgeries. So what we're trying to do by getting everyone vaccinated — aside from keeping the community, our public, our patients and our staff safer — is to reduce the chances greatly of an outbreak, and therefore continue surgeries."

The current provincial policy says hospital workers must get vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing. The province is still allowing hospitals to enact their own policies.

At Windsor Regional Hospital, the vast majority of staff were compliance with its vaccination policy following the passing of the deadline last month, but 62 have been terminated as of last week and dozens of employees have filed grievances.

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