After failing to comply with an Oct. 22 deadline to become completely vaccinated against COVID-19, more than 180 University Health Network staff are anticipated to be fired.
Gillian Howard, a spokeswoman for the hospital network, told CP24 that as of yesterday, about 181 UHN staff had failed to show proof of vaccination and were thus in violation of the policy, which was initially announced in August.
The employees “have made the decision to leave their job at UHN,” according to Howard.
The announcement comes only one day after 147 employees at the Hospital for Sick Children were placed on unpaid leave for failing to comply with a similar immunization obligation.
The deadline to provide proof of vaccination at several other GTA hospitals, inclining the Trillium Health Network and Unity Health Toronto, has also passed and it is possible that hundreds more workers could be placed on unpaid leaves or terminated at those facilities in the coming days.
“Our mandatory vaccination policy is in place to ensure that we have done as much as we possibly can to protect the health and safety of our patients and our staff,” Howard said in a statement provided to CP24. “UHN cares for some of the most immune-compromised and/or immune-suppressed patients and this is something that virtually all of our patients and staff expect of us.”
UHN began placing unvaccinated employees on unpaid leaves on Oct. 8 and had said that anyone who remained unvaccinated as of Oct. 22 would be terminated.
Howard said that about 98 per cent of the approximately 17,200 employees at UHN did ultimately meet the deadline to become compliant with the policy, including 100 per cent of the physician and research groups.
News of the termination comes as the Ford government continues to mull over implementing a provincewide vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, as it did for those in the long-term care sector earlier this month.
Speaking with reporters last week, Ford said that he had concerns about the impact that a mandate would have on hospital staffing given data suggesting that 15 per cent of Ontario’s health system workforce remains unvaccinated.
“Let me be clear: every hospital worker should be vaccinated; we encourage everyone to do so, and the vast majority of them have.” But we can’t afford to lose qualified professionals at a time when our doctors and nurses are already overworked, especially in northern and rural areas,” he said.
In recent days, both the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ontario Science Advisory Table wrote to Ford to express their support for a province-wide vaccine requirement for healthcare workers.
According to the OHA, roughly 70% of hospitals currently have stricter regulations than the Ford government’s, which permits unvaccinated personnel to engage in a quick tetanus vaccination.