Treaty 1 Territory, Métis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals are calling on the Manitoba Government to make vaccinations mandatory for everyone working in healthcare ahead of a 4th wave of COVID-19.
Currently, there is no requirement for hospital employees who are in direct contact with patients to be vaccinated against COVID-19. That puts the workers and patients alike at greater danger of catching and spreading the virus.
At a press conference last week, the province's Chief Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said a fourth wave of Covid was inevitable.
"People receiving treatment or surgery are some of the most vulnerable in our province and need to be protected," said Dr. Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberal Health Critic and MLA for River Heights. "Many patients are undergoing surgery which weaken the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. It is essential that everyone in health care is vaccinated, unless they have solid medical or religious reasons to refuse."
In February, an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal recommended that provinces should bring in a single vaccine mandate for all health care workers, whether in public or private. The article included a legal analysis emphasizing that such a measure would comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Ontario already has legislation requiring vaccination for workers in long-term care homes, and doctors are also required to be vaccinated for a variety of diseases as a condition of work.
Manitoba Liberal MLAs have been contacted by various Manitobans, including health care workers and Manitobans with health conditions, concerned for their lives because there are no protocols on vaccinations for health care workers in place.
Cancer patients' immune systems are weakened through cancer treatments. Leukemia patients undergoing bone marrow transplants lose all previously acquired immunity from vaccines. Manitoba Liberals say it is important that all workers be vaccinated to minimize risk of contracting the virus.
"The PCs are acting like the pandemic is over, even as they are saying a fourth wave is inevitable. Vaccines are safe, and they work," said Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, Dougald Lamont. "Manitobans have suffered a lot during this pandemic, and it would be tragic if a patient contracted covid when a vaccine was available."
Lamont said it's clear that Manitobans are taking the fourth wave more seriously than the PCs, as the Delta Variant is known to be more infectious.