Quebec, the first province in Canada scheduled to enforce a Covid-19 vaccine mandate from Friday, has postponed its enforcement by a month due to concerns that it may trigger a healthcare crisis caused by depleted staffing.
Quebec’s decision to pause the move came as public sector unions continue to oppose mandatory Covid-19 vaccine requirements for central and provincial government employees.
The prospect of depleted staffing amid a fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic eventually compelled Quebec to postpone the mandate deadline to November 15. Healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses who were not fully vaccinated by the original October 15 deadline faced the prospect of being suspended.
The “risk” to the healthcare system in Quebec is considered to be “too high” if the mid-October vaccine mandate sparks a crisis, fears provincial health minister Christian Dubé. According to CBC News, in remarks in French on Wednesday, he said, “We want to apply mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers, but not at the expense of our ability to treat citizens.”
While over 90% of healthcare workers in Quebec are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, around 22,000 who have taken only one dose or none are liable for suspension under new vaccine mandates.
Unions representing healthcare workers have been opposing the measure, as has been the case at the federal level, where the deadline for enforcement is on October 30.
The federal vaccine mandates, championed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are piecemeal and do not cover all employees such as the Canadian Armed Forces, which is exempted from compulsory jabs against Covid-19. However, a face-off is still looming as the date of enforcement nears.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which represents 215,000 central government employees, has contested the expected implementation and said it will “continue to represent unvaccinated members who have punitive action taken against them as a result of their vaccination status”.
Similarly, the National Police Federation, which represents Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel, had asserted it will “continue to support members’ access to [Covid-19] vaccines, and their choice to be vaccinated or not”.
NO COVID-19 CASES ON DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM INDIA
In another development, over a fortnight following the lifting of a five-month-long ban on direct passenger flights from India to Canada, no Covid-19 cases have been reported among those who have flown in since, according to data from Public Health Agency of Canada.
The ban, first imposed in April, was originally aimed at curbing the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Canada when a devastating second wave was at its peak in India.
However, it was then renewed several times and testing requirements for those flying in to Canada via other countries were put in place. Those measures were kept in place even as Canada opened up for all fully vaccinated travellers before finally lifting the ban on September 27.
Data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, tracking incidence of infections on international flights, shows that no cases have been reported so far from direct flights originating from India, either operated by Air Canada or Air India.
Courtesy – www.hindustantimes.com