Local medical officer of health says requiring employers to enact vaccine policy is nothing new

"We've done that for decades now," said Dr. Charles Gardner

On Tuesday, the provincial government announced it would put the onus on healthcare sector employers to craft vaccine policies. The move was met with criticism by some, including the NDP Opposition, as it shifts responsibility from the government to the employer. Simcoe-Muskoka’s medical officer of health says this is a standard move.

“We’ve done that for decades now, with regards to long-term care facilities,” said Dr. Charles Gardner. “At the end of the day, you’re going to need a mechanism whereby this gets done locally and the use of policies in facilities has been effective for other communicable diseases in the past, including influenza.”

“To me, it’s actually probably the best way because it brings it, with a mechanism, very close to home,” he added.

PROVINCE TO MAKE VACCINES MANDATORY IN HIGH-RISK SETTINGS, PUSHES PAUSE ON ROADMAP TO REOPEN WHILE VACCINATION POLICIES ARE DRAWN UP

Tuesday’s announcement indicated that employers in the hospital, community care providers, and ambulance sectors craft policy that mandates employees be fully vaccinated or have a medically documented reason why not. Those who refuse would have to participate in COVID-19 educational sessions.

Gardner says those employers who need assistance with crafting appropriate policies can turn to the SMDHU. “I think local public health can assist or look at what it is that these facilities would need in the way of guidance about policies, exchanging and sharing policies that other facilities put in place,” he said.

The province is expected to announce similar steps regarding mandating vaccination in other sectors in the coming days.