The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) are jointly calling for COVID-19 vaccination to be made mandatory for healthcare workers.
The two organizations today joined a growing number of calls to make vaccines a mandatory condition of employment in the healthcare industry.
“As healthcare providers, we have a fundamental duty of care to our patients and the public. There is significant evidence that vaccines are safe and effective and as healthcare professionals leading immunization campaigns , this is the right call and the right step, “said CMA President Dr. Ann Collins.
Organizations say mandatory vaccinations would protect patients and workers from the novel coronavirus while helping to maintain the capacity of the healthcare system.
Other healthcare groups, including the Ontario Medical Association and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, have also called for mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers.
To date, no government in Canada has made vaccines mandatory. The governments of France, Italy and Greece have introduced legislation that effectively makes vaccination against COVID-19 compulsory for healthcare workers.
The American Medical Association and the American Nursing Association were among dozens of U.S. medical groups that officially called for mandatory vaccines in a statement released last week.
AMC Says Immunization Rates “Near 100%” Needed
“We need these [vaccination] to keep the public safe, said Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA’s new president.
“Healthcare workers have a real responsibility to the people they serve to ensure that the spaces where people access care are safe. “
Smart said some health workers “have questions and concerns” about vaccines, “like everyone else.”
These workers also represent a large cross section of the Canadian population and some of them face structural barriers to immunization, she added. These barriers can include a lack of paid time off to get vaccinated and a lack of access to sick days in the event of side effects from vaccination.
Canada lacks detailed statistics on immunization rates among healthcare workers. Of eligible Canadians aged 12 and older, 81% have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while nearly 68% are fully immunized.
Canada’s immunization figures place Canada among the world leaders in immunization rates. However, there are signs that absorption is starting to run out of steam – which has led some experts to warn that a fourth wave of the pandemic could be on the horizon.
The delta variant, which is significantly more transmissible than previous versions of the coronavirus, now accounts for the majority of new cases in Canada.
Would mandates on vaccines stand in court?
Making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for healthcare workers is an effective public health policy that resists, according to an article published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association by a trio of University of Ottawa law professors. probably to any legal challenge.
The authors of the document – Colleen M. Flood, Bryan Thomas and Kumanan Wilson – said if governments demanded vaccines for healthcare workers, challenges to this policy would likely have to take place under the Charter of Rights. and freedoms.
“Governments should be able to successfully advocate for such a challenge” as long as provision is made for people with underlying health problems and those who oppose vaccination on grounds of “religious objection or conscience. good faith, ”the article says.
The authors said warrants issued by individual employers may be more vulnerable to legal challenges, which could be made under labor laws rather than the charter.