QUEBEC – With a provincial decree requiring all Quebec’s healthcare workers to be fully-vaccinated as of October 15, according to reports, over 17,000 workers across the province still haven’t received a first dose and will be suspended without pay as of that date, exasperating already critical staff shortages.
According to Patricia Rhéaume, Centre intégré de santé et des services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) communications agent, about 6% or 750 of CISSSO’s employees have yet to receive a first dose. With a 4-week span needed between doses, it means these employees will be suspended as of October 15.
“We have contingency plans in place to deal with different scenarios considering workforce shortages related to unvaccinated employees. Job structures are fragile. No final direction has been taken. Directions will be made based on the contingency plan that is currently under discussion,” she said.
Law 105 passed
In response to a number of recent anti-COVID vaccination protests held in front of hospitals and schools across the province, the Coalition Avenir Quebec government passed Law 105 which makes it illegal to protest within 50 meters of vaccination sites, schools, hospitals, COVID testing centers and medical clinics.
Violators – those who protest, help organize one, or incite someone to organize a protest – can be fined between $1,000 and $6,000, with penalties doubled for intimidating anyone going to or from the listed sites. Staff are still permitted to protest issues at their workplaces, however.
The Law was presented September 23 and was passed later the same day, with only a few hours for MNAs to read it over and propose changes. It applies for a 30-day period, but can be renewed as long as the public health emergency status, which has been in place since March 2020, is still in effect.
Third dose for seniors homes
On September 28, the province decided to administer a third dose of the COVID vaccine to seniors living in Centres d’hébergement de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), private seniors residences (RPA) and family and intermediate type resource centres (RI-RTF). Immunization experts recommend a six month interval between doses, so mobile vaccination teams will be deployed to these locations at the end of October.
“There is a gradual decrease in vaccine effectiveness after time, so this [measure is important for] the most vulnerable,” said Premier Francois Legault in an online post.
On September 30, the province announced restrictions for sports, cultural and other entertainment venues with assigned seating will be lightened starting October 8. Full capacity can be resumed in these locations, but those who visit must show proof of double vaccination (if more than 250 people) and masks are required when seated or moving around, but not while eating or drinking.