The province’s Liberal leader is pushing for a vaccination passport and mandatory vaccinations for front-line workers, saying Premier Doug Ford’s reopening plan is to “have no plan at all.”
Steven Del Duca expanded on the topic of mandatory vaccinations for those in the healthcare sector, saying the people of Ontario “need a plan to prevent a fourth wave and keep Ontario open.”
“It’s time for Ontario to require mandatory vaccination for any frontline worker in healthcare or education while ensuring the mandate adheres to the Ontario Human Rights Code. This is about protecting our most vulnerable, keeping schools open, and keeping our economy open,” Del Duca said in a statement on Monday.
“It’s important that we continue educational efforts, working with workers, employers and unions to help communities – particularly racialized communities struggling to increase vaccination rates – overcome vaccine hesitancy, and not simply give up on protecting them from COVID-19.”
The Ford government has maintained a firm stance on not implementing vaccine passports, with the Premier saying a few weeks ago that he’s “never believed in proof” and that “everyone gets their proof when they get the vaccination.”
When asked about mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers on Monday, Ford doubled down.
“We encourage them to get a vaccination. I don’t believe in forcing anyone to get a vaccination that doesn’t want it. I am up here, literally, preaching, begging, pleading every single day since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.
“… Folks, if you’re in the healthcare industry, please just go and get a vaccination.”
The Premier said he’s heard that over 90 per cent of Ontario healthcare workers have elected to receive at least one dose of a vaccine.
Last week, Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table released recommendations on the subject of a vaccine passport, saying a certificate could be used to regulate entry into high-risk locations, including gyms, restaurants, cultural and sports events and in settings like schools and workplaces that require mandatory vaccination.
Quebec imposed its own vaccine-passport system in September in areas where COVID-19 outbreaks occur, requiring people to prove they are vaccinated to enter places such as gyms and bars.
“I do not believe employees should lose their jobs. We need to show leadership and focus on overcoming vaccine hesitancy, which punitive firings would do nothing to support,” Del Duca added.
“We also need a secure and accessible tool to provide proof of vaccination. This would help businesses and organizations develop fair policies should they require clients to be vaccinated, making us all safer as we continue to enjoy the re-opening.”
The science table brief concluded that vaccine certificates could also serve as verifiable, secure, standardized, accessible, and portable immunization records in the long run.
“Doug Ford’s reopening plan is to have no plan at all. He’s jeopardizing Ontario’s reopening by not planning ahead to prevent a fourth wave,” Del Duca wrote.
“Ontario Liberals are the only party putting in the work to plan for a safe and permanent reopening that rewards those who made the responsible decision to get their vaccine.”