view entire issue | view Hansard type of business | new search


Ontario Hansard - 20-October2021

MANDATORY COVID-19 VACCINATIONS IN THE EDUCATION AND HEALTHCARE SECTORS ACT, 2021 / LOI DE 2021 SUR LA VACCINATION OBLIGATOIRE CONTRE LA COVID-19 DANS LE SECTEUR DE L’ÉDUCATION ET CELUI DES SOINS DE SANTÉ

Mr. Fraser moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 12, An Act to enact the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Education and Healthcare Sectors Act, 2021 / Projet de loi 12, Loi édictant la Loi de 2021 sur la vaccination obligatoire contre la COVID-19 dans le secteur de l’éducation et celui des soins de santé.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Pursuant to standing order 101, the member has 12 minutes for their presentation.

Mr. John Fraser: Thank you, Speaker, for your patience.

Families have been through a lot in the last 19 months: lost wages, lost time at school, lost time with loved ones. Too many people got sick. More than 9,800 families have lost a loved one.

Vaccines arrived. They have offered us new hope. We know that vaccines reduce the risk of transmission, disease, hospitalization and death. We also know that there are many among us who are still very vulnerable: seniors, the immunocompromised, children under 12 who can’t get vaccines yet.

That’s why it’s perfectly reasonable for families to expect that the person caring for a loved one in hospital, in home care—in any setting—has been vaccinated. It’s also perfectly reasonable for parents to expect that the person who’s helping their child at school or in a child care setting—that that person has been vaccinated, too.

That’s why I brought forward Bill 12. Bill 12, would, if passed, make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all front-line health care and education workers.

The bill is about protecting the most vulnerable among us. Mandating COVID-19 vaccines for those who work in our hospitals, our schools and our child care centres and other health care settings will help keep kids, patients, seniors and those who care for them safe.

The bill requires all education sector employees in the province, as outlined in the Education Act and the Child Care and Early Years Act, as well as health service provider employees referenced in the Connecting Care Act and Ambulance Act, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The bill adheres to the Human Rights Code. The only exemptions apply to those workers who do not come into direct contact with other employees, patients or children—for example, someone working from home. It also includes training about the benefits and the risks of COVID-19 vaccines, and that’s very important.

Organizations are required to abide by this mandatory vaccination policy. In the event of non-compliance, a medical officer of health can issue an order under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. It essentially makes COVID-19 vaccinations in these organizations a public health order. The act would come into force 28 days after it receives royal assent in order to allow time for people to get their first or both doses.

Evidence shows that the best way to protect ourselves and our loved ones is to get vaccinated. Despite Ontario’s high vaccination rates, the Delta variant has led to breakthrough infections that pose a threat, particularly to our seniors and those who are immunocompromised. Children under 12 remain unvaccinated. Hopefully, their vaccines will be approved soon. Even in the best-case scenario, most children won’t be fully vaccinated and immune until next year. Having a standard of vaccinating all front-line health and education workers is simply going to protect people.

1710

Universal vaccinations for front-line workers in health care and education are nothing new. Here in Ontario, we’ve been doing them for about half a century.

For months, Ontario’s nurses, Ontario’s doctors, Ontario’s hospitals, Ontario’s school boards, Ontario’s families have been asking the government to make vaccinations mandatory for front-line health care workers and education workers. Inexplicably, the government has delayed, dragging their feet, failing to take decisive action. Organizations, including hospitals and school boards, were forced to come up with their own policies. Some made vaccines mandatory, but many struggled to develop their own policies. Instead of having these organizations’ backs, like school boards and hospitals, and even long-term-care homes before a few weeks ago, the Premier’s message to them was, “You’re on your own.”

Surprisingly, though, three weeks ago the government relented and made vaccines mandatory for workers in long-term care. At the October 1 announcement, the Minister of Long-Term Care said, “Residents and family members deserve to know the vaccination rates of those caring for them.” He went on to say that while staffing might be impacted by this policy, “the priority has to be protecting the safety of the residents and of the safety of the other staff.” The minister clearly stated that while they might lose some staff who are unwilling to get vaccinated, home operators are much more concerned with the implication of an outbreak. Instead of losing five or six staff who choose not to get vaccinated, they could lose 10, 20, or 30 staff who need to quarantine from an outbreak, maybe for a couple of nights, maybe for a couple of weeks. That’s a big problem. He said, “From a human resource perspective, we’ve looked at this closely, this is a better approach. From a safety perspective, this is a better approach.” So it’s hard to understand why this better approach is not applicable to hospitals or schools or child care centres or someone being cared for at home. It just doesn’t make sense.

The Premier said that he’s unable to implement vaccination mandates across the health sector because it would lead to disruptive staff shortages and that could possibly compromise patient care. His own Minister of Long-Term Care has said that not having a mandatory vaccination policy could lead to serious staff shortages due to outbreak and the transmission of disease.

The CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, Anthony Dale, disagreed: “A consistent provincial approach to health care worker vaccination is urgently needed to maintain adequate staffing levels across Ontario’s highly interconnected and interdependent health care system....

“Throughout the pandemic, the OHA has repeatedly learned that a system-wide response is most effective to combatting COVID-19.”

Just yesterday, the COVID-19 science table said that hospital vaccine mandates can enhance safety and reduce the risk of staffing disruptions due to COVID-19, and that requiring that hospital workers be vaccinated is an evidence-based policy that protects Ontarians.

The Premier went so far as to say that approximately 15% of health care workers aren’t vaccinated and vaccine mandates would lead to thousands and thousands of workers leaving their jobs. Well, the trouble is that the real-world evidence just doesn’t show that. For organizations that have already implemented vaccine mandates, their vaccine rates are higher than what the Premier is suggesting—at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, 99% of full-time staff, almost 98% of part-time staff; Queensway Carleton Hospital, 98%; University Health Network, Ontario’s largest hospital network, 97%.

A spokesperson at Hôtel-Dieu Grace in Windsor, who also mandated vaccines, said, “There has been no impact on the delivery of programs and services.”

In Ottawa, two school boards have gone forward and mandated vaccines for all their workers. The result: 92.6% of the staff at the Ottawa-Carleton school board and 93.7% at the Ottawa Catholic School Board are fully vaccinated.

Regina Bateson, a parent at Hopewell Avenue Public School in Ottawa, says it best: “We know that a single unvaccinated staff member who gets COVID is capable of spreading it to dozens of students who are not eligible for vaccinations.”

She goes on to say, “The ripple effects of that can be huge: shutting down entire classrooms or an entire school, disrupting hundreds of people’s lives, potentially resulting in other people getting seriously ill or dying. We have vaccines that are known to be safe and effective. So it strikes me that the question isn’t, ‘Why should staff be vaccinated?’ It’s, ‘Why shouldn’t they?’”

It’s the government’s job to set a standard, a target to achieve. Although voluntary vaccinations have yielded high vaccination rates, we know that our children and seniors are still at risk.

This morning, the Minister of Health, in response to my question about mandatory vaccinations said, “We did it in long-term care because so many bad things have happened there.” You didn’t do it in long-term care because so many bad things happened there; you did it in long-term care because people are vulnerable there. They’re vulnerable to breakthrough infections, and we saw what happened when that policy wasn’t in place over the summer with outbreaks and illness and death in some Ontario long-term-care homes.

The same principle that you’re applying in long-term care applies for a senior who’s in hospital, a senior who’s in home care or a senior who’s in a clinic, and I would argue that the same principle applies to a child under 12 who’s unvaccinated in a classroom or in a child care centre somewhere in Ontario.

I’d ask you to tell me that I’m wrong, to tell me that it’s not reasonable for parents to expect the person who’s helping their child to be vaccinated. I’d argue that someone over there tell me that, for your son or daughter, you would be comfortable with somebody being unvaccinated in school, and that’s not what you want. I think it’s a reasonable thing, and it’s very frustrating that the government has taken such a slow, incremental approach in the middle of a pandemic. It defies logic. It’s not about the setting as much as it is about the vulnerable people who are in it and their vulnerabilities.

I’d like to add one more thing. For months and months and months—it feels a bit like paid sick days—people have been asking the government to mandate vaccines for front-line health care and education workers—months and months and months. We can’t afford to waste the time that got wasted with paid sick days. Here’s the thing: If the government had set that standard, if the government had mandated those things, then they could have done the thing that’s so difficult to do right now because they’ve jammed it right up against a timeline.

They could have done the things to support people who have questions they want to ask about COVID-19 vaccines. People deserve answers. They’re hesitant; they need to know. The government has to be aggressive in helping organizations build the capacity to do that because not all of them do, and we all know that. When you delay and drag your feet, you make it harder to achieve the thing you say you’re trying to achieve. When you do that, that leaves the vulnerable amongst us potentially unprotected, and that’s not acceptable.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Thank you. Questions and comments? My apologies. Further debate?

Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You had me fooled there.

It’s my pleasure to rise to speak on Bill 12, the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Education and Health Care Sectors Act. COVID-19 vaccines are an issue of great importance to all Ontarians right now as they are an important tool as we continue to fight against the fourth wave of COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

Our government’s top priority has always been protecting the health and safety of Ontarians, and from the beginning of the pandemic Ontario’s approach to vaccination has been guided by expert advice and by conclusions drawn from data.

Since the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, 87.5% of the eligible population has received a first dose and 83.2% has been fully vaccinated. Approximately 700,000 health care workers have been fully vaccinated. Ontario’s COVID-19 management plan for schools was developed by medical leaders with one aim: to maximize safety and minimize the risk to children. We have the resources in place, from nursing to testing and enhanced screening and cleaning, to help prevent the spread, coupled with a comprehensive plan to respond to any challenge immediately and decisively.

1720

Our government has been clear: Nothing will stop us from having the most successful immunization campaign in the country. We are well on our way to achieving that goal, having administered over 22 million doses, more than any other province or territory. And while our government awaits Health Canada approval and any guidance and recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for people under 12 years of age, work is under way to prepare for the coming administration of COVID-19 vaccines for children.

Because of these policies, Ontario has among the highest percentages, as I said, of people vaccinated, but now even among jurisdictions around the world. The success of this vaccine rollout has led to our case counts, which have remained comparatively low throughout the fourth wave and the Delta-driven variant coming here. We continue to strongly encourage people to embrace the opportunity to get their COVID-19 vaccine, and we’re pleased that so many people have taken up this opportunity at this point.

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that nothing is more important to our government than the health and well-being of those living in Ontario. The Ontario government has shown leadership in taking progressive action to maximize the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination for all education, health care, residential and congregate care workers. This action is part of an overall strategy for higher-risk settings in order to better protect patients, residents, clients and staff.

Our government has implemented strong measures to encourage vaccine uptake as part of our last mile strategy, which have yielded positive results. Since the last mile strategy was announced August 24, approximately 365,000 first doses and approximately 526,000 second doses have been administered.

In August, Ontario launched the GO-VAXX buses to provide Ontarians with easier access to first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The GO-VAXX clinics have now administered more than 10,000 first and second doses through smaller community-based and easy-to-access settings across southern Ontario and beyond.

The Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre has been calling Ontarians to book or rebook a first or second dose. Nearly 600,000 calls have been made, with more than 13,000 booking their first dose on the spot, 21,783 confirming a scheduled appointment elsewhere and more than 133,000 second-dose appointments booked or rebooked.

The Hospital for Sick Children has also set up a call line to answer questions about children and the vaccine from parents and expectant parents.

Since September 22, the government has taken further steps to keep Ontarians safe. The province has introduced additional measures in public settings to help keep the province open, stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians.

Ontarians have also been required to show proof of vaccination as a new measure to support the reopening of the economy, help increase our vaccination rates, protect individuals in higher-risk indoor settings and hopefully—I think we all hope this—prevent any more lockdowns. Proof of vaccination has also provided an incentive for many to be vaccinated. In the weeks following the announcement of the proof of vaccination policy, the number of Ontarians receiving a first dose jumped by almost 25% over the week prior.

Last week, our government introduced the enhanced vaccine certificates with a scannable QR code for patrons and a free made-in-Ontario verification app called Verify Ontario for businesses and organizations to download for free, which can be used to scan the enhanced vaccination certificates.

These new tools, along with the existing public health measures, make it more secure and more convenient for individuals to provide proof of vaccination to enter certain higher-risk businesses or organizations. And thanks to a strong and successful vaccination program, Ontario has really been able to reopen our economy. We will continue to find the safest and most effective methods to protect vulnerable Ontarians, safeguard our hospital capacity and to secure a safe reopening of our economy.

The province, since the beginning of the pandemic, has a strong record for collaborating with key sector stakeholders to increase vaccine uptake, and will continue to work on this goal. As a result of this collaboration, public health units and publicly funded school boards are running voluntary vaccination clinics in or nearby schools to make vaccines even more convenient and accessible for eligible students, their families, educators and school staff returning to school.

To further protect those who face the highest risk from COVID-19 and the Delta variant, the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is following the evidence and recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and will begin offering third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to additional groups that demonstrate a suboptimal immune response to vaccines on the basis of their underlying health condition, or their risk if, for example, they live in a congregate situation.

Ontario’s cautious and measured approach is working, and key indicators are not only improving, but they are stabilizing. High rates of vaccination against COVID-19 are critical to helping protect our communities and hospital capacity while keeping Ontario schools and businesses safely open.

Here in Ontario, many hospitals have implemented mandatory vaccination policies, as our government has maintained flexibility for health leaders to do so if appropriate. The government has already issued requirements for COVID-19 vaccination policies in these sectors. These requirements have been issued with an emphasis on informed choice and promoting vaccination through a comprehensive campaign focused on education and myth-busting.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health, on August 17, issued directive 6, which sets out clear direction to public hospitals, home care and community service providers, and paramedics to establish vaccination policies. These policies require all employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students to provide evidence of being fully vaccinated, or to have a properly documented medical exemption, or to have attended an organizationally approved education session about the benefits of the vaccine.

Directive 6 also stipulates that all employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 adhere to a regular point-of-care antigen testing regime, and must demonstrate the negative results of their test to their employer every seven days, at a minimum. Organizations covered by the directive can apply more stringent measures by removing the educational session and only requiring proof of being fully vaccinated or a medical reason for not being fully vaccinated, thereby supporting the organization to be responsive to its institutional circumstances, as well as the community context.

On September 7, the office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health also issued a letter of instruction which sets out similar requirements for the education sector.

The proposed bill puts forward the reassignment of non-vaccinated employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students to jobs that do not involve patient, client or student contact. Of course, the proposal assumes there would be a sufficient number of such positions available. In addition, any decision to do so needs to be weighed against the real risk of staff shortages that could compromise care in these settings.

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear: Every hospital worker should be vaccinated, and we encourage all of them to get vaccinated. In fact, the vast majority have. However, at a time when our doctors and nurses and other front-line health care providers are already stretched to their limits, especially in northern and rural areas, losing qualified staff has real and perhaps significant risks. We need to ensure that any decisions on mandatory vaccination policies do not have a negative impact on the health human resources we rely on, or in any way compromise patient safety.

Recognizing the complexity of this issue, the Premier has asked our top experts in the province for their feedback, and we are receiving and reviewing their feedback now so that we can assess any health human resource concerns before making any decisions on mandatory vaccination policies.

Speaker, our government’s top priority has always been protecting the health and safety of Ontarians, and we have done this by having the most successful immunization campaign in the country, administering over 22 million doses. As we continue our last mile strategy to increase vaccination rates, the introduction of a vaccine certificate is an important step to encourage every eligible Ontarian to get their vaccine as soon as possible.

We continue to follow the expert advice given by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Moore, and support his efforts in fighting COVID-19 in schools and hospitals. Even now, as we are debating this tonight, Quebec has recently delayed implementation of their vaccine mandate for hospital workers due to concerns about shortages, while BC has softened theirs.

1730

Ontario is doing better than other jurisdictions due to our extremely cautious approach. Currently, the province’s public health and health care indicators remain stable or are improving. In fact, Ontario continues to report one of the lowest rates of active cases in the entire country, well below the national average, as we have trended toward the best case scenario projected in the last modelling update. Thanks to our strong and successful vaccination program, Ontario has been able to reopen our economy.

This is an important issue that’s been raised and I think it’s something that we need to get right. I would caution everybody to not run headlong into something, but to continue taking a cautious approach. There is no challenge that we can’t overcome if we think properly and get this right. Thank you.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate?

Mr. Ian Arthur: Speaker, congratulations on the Chair.

It’s always an honour to stand and speak on the debate for Bill 12, brought forward by the member from Ottawa South, and it is timely. In fact, one might say it’s past due. One might even argue that we shouldn’t even be debating a private member’s bill right now but that we should have already passed a government bill on this subject to mandate vaccines for health care and education workers.

Throughout the pandemic, we keep returning to the same things of safety and responsibility: How do we keep people safe, and who is responsible for that safekeeping? The safety of the most vulnerable, our parents, elders, seniors, children and other people with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, and responsibility of the employees to do what they can to protect those around them, Speaker—that responsibility lies with all of us and certainly with the employees who come in direct contact with the sick, the young and the elderly.

Most of us in Ontario are taking that responsibility seriously, and I applaud everyone who has taken proper measures and gone and gotten their vaccine. So many Ontarians sacrificed and took decisive actions, and they did so because they knew what it meant to be part of a collective, to take on that societal responsibility together and do the right thing. They understood that being part of a community means adopting best practices without delay to protect those around them who can’t take those same actions.

We have a near consensus. Organizations, unions and businesses have led the way in mandating vaccines for their employees, and I have to question why this government is dragging its feet. This is not rushing headlong into something. This is something that should have been done a long time ago. This is a snail’s pace towards mandatory vaccinations right now; it’s not headlong, Speaker.

This government is refusing to mandate vaccinations for those employed in the health care and education sectors, and they’re not even really creating an acceptable framework which they can go by. They are downloading the responsibility onto administrators, onto the administration in hospitals, onto school boards, principals and vice-principals to develop this and decide what they’re doing in their own places of work.

The Premier likes to say that the buck stops at him. He also likes to say that he is a yes man, that he’s out there saying yes. I think he needs to say “yes” to this bill, Speaker. Stop sloughing it off on those people, on those administrators. Step up. Do the job of being a Premier. Tell his caucus that he can support this bill. Pass it so that everyone else can be safe. It’s well past time that this action was taken in Ontario.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Speaker, I rise to speak in support of Bill 12. I want to be very clear: I believe people have the right to decide not to be vaccinated. But it is reasonable and responsible policy to ensure that we protect the most vulnerable by mandating vaccinations for health care and education workers. The science table says it’s the right thing to do, and if the government were serious about avoiding shortages of health care workers, they would improve working conditions and pay for front-line workers.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate?

Mrs. Belinda C. Karahalios: If passed, Bill 12 will continue to see people lose their jobs, as we have seen for three years as a result of this government destroying our economy, fearmongering and pressuring public and private sector employers to fire people. For three years, this government, which once promised to grow our economy, has enacted policies and regulations and more red tape that has resulted in record job losses and business closures, and this bill will only continue that trend.

What this bill does is a one-size-fits-all model, as any exceptions have been proven to not apply, and it rams through this one-size-fits-all model, increasing the fearmongering, increasing the intolerance towards those who are not comfortable disclosing their private medical or vaccine status. It vilifies millions of people, tells them they can’t be participants in society and results in animosity between Ontarians pointing the finger against a group of people for their own personal medical choices. It is no one’s business why someone doesn’t want to or can’t get vaccinated.

COVID-19 is no joke for those who are high-risk, but neither is it a joke to coerce people into disclosing their medical status and to have them fired from their job. So, because of that, I will not be supporting this bill.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate? I apologize to the member for Niagara Falls—a rookie mistake. I turn the floor to the member from Niagara Falls.

Mr. Wayne Gates: I thought it was just because I was short, maybe. I wasn’t really sure what the problem was.

Anyway, I want to rise and talk about this bill, but I also want to talk about something that was said about 10 minutes ago about how the number-one priority for the government is the health and safety of workers in the province of Ontario. If you cared about workers in the province of Ontario, you wouldn’t have brought Bill 124 into the province of Ontario. You would have made sure that those workers are being compensated properly. You would have made sure their collective agreements were being followed.

Do you know that we have nurses, health care workers and education workers who got no vacation because of Bill 124? They’ve had to work seven days a week. They’ve had their shifts moved around. We have a crisis. Do you know what we have a crisis in when it comes to health care workers? We have a crisis in that they have post-traumatic stress disorder in the workplace in record numbers, my friends, and a lot of this stems from Bill 124.

And then, if you’re thinking about compensation—because I heard a question today around compensation for the Conservative Party—do you know that Bill 124 caps their benefits at 1% and their salary at 1%? We all know that. I think even this side of the House knows that. Do you know what the inflation rate was last month? It was 4.8%. That means that for everyone who’s affected by Bill 124, guess what happens? It’s a 3.8% cut in their wages as they’re fighting COVID-19, as they’re risking their lives going into work every single day.

I’m going to give you an example real quick. I might not get to education. I’ve only got a few minutes here, and I know my whip makes sure I stay within my time limits, but I want to talk about a place and why we need to make sure that people are vaccinated when they go into facilities. I’m going to talk about a long-term-care facility real quick, where they had an unvaccinated contract employee enter the long-term-care home. It happens every day—some are trained; some are not trained. Then we saw it spread to two floors. She goes to work, has COVID, performs her job for about two or three hours, and infects the entire second and third floors. Think about that: seniors, loved ones, people’s moms and dads. Guess what happened? They got COVID-19. But do you know what else happened? They died. They called my office, saying, “My mom was perfectly healthy before that contract employee came in with COVID-19, because she was unvaccinated.”

I want to ask you on that side of the House, as you’re going to probably vote against the bill: Do you think it’s right that your mom or dad, your grandparent or your aunt is in a facility being taken care of, whether it’s retirement, long-term care or in our hospitals, and they’re not vaccinated, and my mom or dad dies because of it? How can you say that you think that’s right? That’s what happened in this place.

I’m saying to you guys, come on. We have to protect workers. We have to protect our family members, our grandparents. You decide not to. You stand up here every day—I could talk even more about Bill 124 and what you’ve done with not taking care of seniority rights, vacations, their benefits. They’re burned out. But the one thing that they should know when they go to work—does anybody know what it is? Maybe the member who brought the bill forward: Do you know the one thing they should know? That when they go to work, they’re going to be safe, they’re going home to their family and they’re not going to spread COVID-19 to a patient or to our moms, our dads or our grandparents.

1740


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate?

Mr. Rick Nicholls: First of all—it should come as no surprise—I will be voting not in favour of this particular bill, and I’ll tell you why: because I’ve heard from hundreds of people in the health care profession and in education who are saying that they don’t want the vaccine and if they don’t get it, they will lose their jobs. I don’t want to see a manufactured health crisis in this province.

What changed from yesterday to today? I have no idea. I can’t get a straight answer. People are very, very frightened over the fact that they’re going to lose their job because their employer will not give them the choice of vaccine or no vaccine, and I’m very, very concerned about that.

I’m also hearing from students right now who are saying, “I can’t do my final semester because they won’t let me go in, because I’m not vaccinated.” Well, I’ve got news for people here: The vaccinated people are carriers as well. I hear that only the unvaxxed are carriers and you catch it from the unvaxxed. That’s hogwash. It can, in fact, be—you know, it’s important.

My time is up, but I wanted to get those points across.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate?

Mme France Gélinas: I thought I would give some real-life examples of what a mandated vaccination would do.

I would like to bring the case of Janice Innocente—actually, her mother. Her mother lives in my riding—in Dowling, to be precise—and receives home care. She has been receiving home care for quite a while. She discovered that her home care worker was not vaccinated, and she became quite worried. She is elderly, has a number of significant health issues and is very immunocompromised. So she phoned the health care agency and asked, “Could you make sure that you only send to my house workers who are vaccinated?”

What happened after this is rather sad. She got a phone call from her home care provider telling her that she was no longer eligible for services through that particular company. They did not give a reason. The only problem is that this is the only company that provides home care in that part of Nickel Belt. So she finds herself with no more access to home care.

This is what her daughter said:

“I truly feel that the service provider is negligent in their behaviour and their vaccination policy. It doesn’t seem right that seniors and others with compromised health issues who require assistance at home are not given an option as to who provides their care and are kept safe by having mandatory vaccination policies in place for all health care providers in that setting.”

She goes on to say, “I’m wondering, as are many others that I’ve spoken with, what is making the government so reluctant to mandate this vaccine? It seems negligent, and it gives the impression that our elected officials are pandering to a few rather than taking a stand for our greater good.” That’s from Janice Innocente in my riding.

I would also like to put a few words on the record from another home care patient. Her name is Diane Sims. Diane is a palliative care patient who receives home care. Although she is palliative, she has no interest whatsoever in having the short remaining time she has cut short because she could contract COVID-19 from one of the home care workers who comes to her house.

Mrs. Sims is in contact with 12 different home care workers every week. She knows that three or maybe four of them are not vaccinated. Her doctor became quite worried and wrote the following letter:

“I wish to bring to your attention that our mutual patient Diane Sims remains at high risk for complications and death should she acquire COVID-19. These risks exist despite the fact that she has been vaccinated. This is because of her multiple chronic medical conditions which impact her immune system.

“It must be made very clear that I do not support the exposure of my patients to unvaccinated health professionals under any circumstances. Such exposure constitutes a grave danger to her health.” It’s signed by her family physician, Sean Blaine.

The family physician wrote to the home care providers to tell them how important it was to protect this patient, but to this day she is facing the same hurdle as my previous client, who said that she has to make the painful choice of choosing to have home care—which she needs, and she qualifies for many hours a day—or having her partner, Dennis, fill in for everything else. She needs toileting regularly. She needs transferring in and out of her chair. She needs intensive home care. Dennis has had to cancel the workers who have been coming in who are not vaccinated and pick up the work himself.

“‘I’m not alone,’ she said. ‘There are about 35 of us’” in the same situation. “Ms. Sims is adamant. ‘All home care workers must be vaccinated.’”


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate?

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: It is my honour to rise today to support the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Education and Healthcare Sectors Act, put forward by my colleague the member from Ottawa South. Today, Speaker, I will be voting with my heart, because one of my constituents, Greta Ifill, sadly passed away as a patient in hospital, having acquired COVID from an unvaccinated health care worker. Our community is still grieving her loss.

Workplaces are safer when everyone is vaccinated. Today, Sharleen Stewart, the SEIU president, said that what the policy lacks is consistency. There’s no direction from the government, so every workplace is different, and it’s hard to protect people in those circumstances.

When you look at the health care and education sectors, they are the most vulnerable, they are the most at risk and they are the most infected sectors. Young people between the ages of zero and 17 represent one in four in the infection rate for COVID-19, and it is actually increasing. Between September 15 and 18 and September 19 and October 2, it has actually almost doubled. When we look at child care settings, infection rates are high. But where it’s not high is in long-term care, because there, there are mandatory vaccinations, and therefore the one thing we have to protect people, to keep them safe, is vaccinations.

It is the responsibility of this government to protect the citizens of this province, in particular those who are the most vulnerable, who are in our education and our health care systems, and to keep them safe. Do your job. Support this bill—and really, you should be doing a government-sponsored bill. I will be voting with my heart today in support of the member from Ottawa South’s bill.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I return to the member from Ottawa South for a two-minute reply.

Mr. John Fraser: I’d like to thank all the members who spoke. I’m not going to mention everybody by riding; I know we normally do that, but there were a lot of members who spoke today. It’s amazing how we can disagree over here but co-operate on the five minutes of time that we have, so I’d like to thank my colleagues here in particular.

Our job here is to hear the voices that are hard to hear. Anything I can say right now is not going to surpass what the member from Niagara Falls and the member from Scarborough–Guildwood said. They brought those voices here. They talked about the real-world consequences of not having mandatory vaccinations for front-line health care workers and education workers. This is what happened to real people with families, with sons and daughters, with friends. Not having this policy in place led to people getting sick and dying. It’s a real story—it’s not just something we say in here—and if there’s any reason that you should be voting for this bill, it’s that reason.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): The time for private members’ public business has expired.

1750

Mr. Fraser has moved second reading of Bill 12, An Act to enact the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Education and Healthcare Sectors Act, 2021. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the nays have it.

A recorded division being required, the vote on this item of private members’ public business will be deferred until the next proceeding of deferred votes.

Second reading vote deferred.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): All matters relating to private members’ public business have been completed. Pursuant to standing order 36, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.
top | new search