A deadline for B.C. health-care workers to get vaccinated is coming this month. (Black Press Media files)

A deadline for B.C. health-care workers to get vaccinated is coming this month. (Black Press Media files)

MP asks Horgan to reconsider vax mandate for health care workers

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Dalton fears health care will lose professionals, as vax deadline looms

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge’s federal representative, MP Marc Dalton, is asking BC Premier John Horgan to keep unvaccinated health-care workers employed.

In a letter released on Monday, Dalton thanked Horgan “for the leadership role that you have taken as we’ve faced this global pandemic.”

“However, some recent decisions of yours have raised concerns from residents who have contacted me,” Dalton’s letter continues.

“I feel obliged to bring forward these concerns on their behalf and the many people they provide care for. I’m speaking of public healthcare workers and provincially regulated health-care professionals who are not fully vaccinated.”

The government requires all regulated health professionals to be vaccinated by March 31 to work in their occupation in B.C. They will need their first dose by that date, and can continue working as long as they receive a second dose within four to five weeks.

“This order will ensure patients have confidence they are protected in all health-care settings, and will align with the existing requirements for health-care workers working in long-term, acute and community care,” said an announcement from the Health Ministry last month.

Dalton notes in his letter it has been a challenging time for health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, adding: “And now the situation we find ourselves in is that nurses and employees in a BC Health Authority who have been placed on leave will soon be terminated permanently.”

“Those who have been affected are often hesitant to publicly come forward due to personal and professional repercussions or becoming another victim in today’s ‘cancel culture,’ said Dalton. “In light of this, many of these professionals are making the decision to quit their position, retire or leave the workforce.

“Is this really the correct path for healthcare in our province?”

Dalton said in an interview with Black Press he has been approached by doctors and nurses from the riding, as well as members of the public. They fear there could be a lot of professionals leaving health care in the province.

“I need to stand up, not only for the health professionals, but also the patients,” said Dalton, who said the state of B.C. health care could deteriorate.

In addition to hospital staff, the provincial order applies to dentists, massage therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, psychologists and a long list of health professions.

READ ALSO: All remaining B.C. health-care workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by March 24

“These are people who can be employed in other provinces, or in other countries,” he told The News.

Dalton said the vaccine does not keep people from getting or transmitting COVID-19, but is effective at protecting them from the worst health effects. For that reason, the government could consider vaccination a personal decision.

His letter to Horgan noted jurisdictions across Canada and around the world are removing COVID-related restrictions and vaccine mandates. At the same time, nurses and others in our health-care system are sounding the alarm over staff shortages, excessive overtime, and fatigue.

All health authority-employed health-care workers who are currently working are fully vaccinated, with the exception of those with medical exemptions.

According to a Ministry of Health statement, the ministry, a public health order allows professional colleges to obtain vaccination status information from the ministry. Registrants for whom vaccination status is not found must provide vaccination records to their college by March 31, 2022.

The ministry knows that there are staffing challenges across the system, and that some practitioners will opt to forego a mandatory vaccination, possibly leaving gaps throughout the province, said the ministry. Contingency plans for periods of low staffing include offering staff additional shifts, including overtime, and re-deploying staff from other areas.

The ministry said it is critical that healthcare professionals do everything possible to protect the patients in their care and to inspire confidence in the province’s healthcare system. It is also critical that healthcare professionals protect their own health in order to continue providing health care to others during this challenging time.

“While we are seeing decreases in cases and hospitalization with this wave of the pandemic, it is essential we are prepared for what may happen in the future as we transition from the emergency response to the pandemic to recovery and readiness.”

READ ALSO: B.C.’s pandemic patios need local approval to operate past June 1

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