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Canadian long-term care operators to enforce mandatory vaccine policy

Last Updated Aug 26, 2021 at 4:44 pm EDT

A man waves to his mother from the window of her room at Tabor Home, a long-term care facility in Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A group of major Canadian long-term care operators will require COVID-19 vaccination for all staff this fall.

Chartwell Retirement Residences, Extendicare, Responsive Group Inc., Revera Inc., and Sienna Senior Living issued a joint statement today about the plan.

The group says employees who aren’t fully vaccinated as of Oct. 12 will be placed on unpaid leave of absence.

Vaccination will also be required for new hires, students and other personnel working with the companies.

The group says they don’t expect the new policy to impact staffing levels.

“The safety of our residents in long-term care and retirement homes, who trust us to provide the care and services they need, is paramount,” the group said in the statement. “This policy will increase their level of safety and improve quality of life for residents by reducing the need for isolation and disruption of daily activities that result from outbreak restrictions.”

The coalition of home operators says unvaccinated staff are more likely to bring the virus to work as infection rates increase.

In Ontario, where almost 4,000 people in long-term care died as a result of COVID-19, the province has set minimum standards for vaccination policies in seniors’ homes.

Staff must show proof of full vaccination or a medical exemption, and those not vaccinated must take an educational program about COVID-19 vaccination.

The Ontario Long-Term Care Association has asked the province to strengthen those rules by mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all direct care providers.