OHS Canada Magazine

Quebec considering vaccine mandate for health workers amid rise in COVID infections


By Jacob Serebrin

MONTREAL — The Quebec government said Friday it was considering imposing a vaccine mandate for health-care workers, a day after Premier Francois Legault confirmed the state would introduce a vaccine passport system.

“We are considering making vaccination obligatory for workers in the health-care network due to the rise of the Delta variant,” Ewan Sauves, a spokesman for Legault, said in an email. “We are not ruling anything out to protect the public and to not confine Quebec again.”

Sauves said the government is not considering a vaccine mandate for other public sector employees.

The news came a day after Legault announced his government would impose a vaccine passport system that would require residents show proof of vaccination to access certain non-essential services. He said the health minister would provide details over the coming days.

Marjorie Larouche, a spokeswoman for Quebec’s Health Department, said 90 per cent of workers at public health-care institutions and in private facilities that have contracts with the government have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. About 81 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated, she added.

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“All options are currently on the table to encourage health-care workers as much as possible to get vaccinated in large numbers,” she wrote in an email.

Since April, health-care workers in Quebec who refuse to show proof of vaccination or who are fewer than two weeks removed from being fully vaccinated are required to get tested for COVID-19 three times a week.

Also on Friday, Quebec’s higher education minister said proof of adequate vaccination will be required of junior college and university students who want to participate in extracurricular activities, including sports.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday his government was mulling vaccine mandates for federal workers and employees in federally regulated industries, specifically naming the aviation and railway sectors.

Several large banks, which are federally regulated, said they’re encouraging workers to get vaccinated.

“We are strongly encouraging all employees to get vaccinated, and are providing them with paid time off to do so,” Kathryn Lawler, a spokeswoman for CIBC, wrote in an email Friday.

Scotiabank and RBC also said they’re encouraging workers to get vaccinated and will be monitoring government requirements.

“As the Delta variant continues to evolve, we support measures that will help us safely transition through the next phase of the virus, and we are actively monitoring for any government-mandated requirements put in place around vaccine disclosures,” Scotiabank said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 218 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus, which occurred on Aug. 3. It’s the first death in the province linked to the virus since July 22. The number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by three from Thursday, to 57, and 15 people were in intensive care, a drop of one.

Quebec’s public health institute said 84.4 per cent of residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine and 70.3 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.