On September 7, Quebec Premier François Legault announced a mandatory vaccination policy for all healthcare workers in both the public and private sector. Workers that are not adequately vaccinated by October 15, 2021, will be suspended without pay.
Who is Targeted?
This obligation applies to all workers in the healthcare system that have a direct or indirect contact with patients. This includes workers that are not themselves directly in contact with patients, but who share common spaces such as cafeterias, elevators, etc., with healthcare workers who are in contact with patients. In other words, mandatory vaccination not only applies to the traditional healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, patient attendants, etc., but also to the administrative workers of the same establishment, such as human resources personnel, security agents, etc.
Which Healthcare Establishments?
Mandatory vaccination would mainly apply to employees in the following establishments1:
- Local community service centers
- Hospital centers
- Public and private long-term care centers
- Youth protection centers
- Rehabilitation centers
- Private care centers (other than long-term care centers) that are government-regulated
- Intermediate and family-type resources
- Retirement homes
- Holders of ambulance service permits
- Medical imaging laboratories that offer public services
All workers in these institutions will have to provide proof of full vaccination. Without adequate vaccination, these employees will have to be reassigned to another task, if possible. If such reassignment is not possible, the employee will be suspended without pay.
Passport Vaccine for Visitors and Caregivers
Quebec's health minister, Christian Dubé, also announced that all visitors and caregivers in a healthcare establishment will have to prove that they are fully vaccinated as well.
Approval by the INSPQ
The ethical committee of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec ("INSPQ"), Quebec's public health research institute, issued a nuanced statement on September 7th to voice its support for these measures, given the exceptional circumstances. The INSPQ was initially against mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers, but according to the statement, the increase in number of cases and the risk of a fourth wave led to a reassessment of its position.
Considerations for Businesses
Employers in Quebec's healthcare ecosystem will need to revise their policies and ensure that their employees are compliant with the vaccination obligations.
It is however important to note that there are risks associated with implementing a mandatory vaccination policy in the workplace. Such risks could be mitigated by ensuring that the collection of vaccine-related information is compliant with applicable privacy laws, and that employees who cannot get vaccinated because of a protected ground are adequately accommodated.
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