The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) are jointly calling for COVID-19 vaccines to be made mandatory for healthcare workers.
Today, the two organizations have joined a growing number of calls to make vaccines a mandatory requirement for employment in the healthcare sector.
“As healthcare providers, we have a primary duty to care for our patients and the general public. There is significant evidence that vaccines are safe and effective, and as health professionals leading vaccination campaigns, this is the right call and the right step,” said CMA President Dr. Ann Collins.
Organizations say mandatory vaccinations will protect patients and staff from the novel coronavirus while helping to maintain capacity in the health care system.
Other health sector groups, including the Ontario Medical Association and the Ontario Registered Nurses Association, have also called for mandatory vaccinations for health care workers.
So far, no government in Canada has made vaccinations mandatory. The governments of France, Italy and Greece have introduced legislation effectively prescribing COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare workers.
The American Medical Association and the American Nursing Association were among dozens of American medical groups that formally called for mandatory vaccinations in the United States The statement was issued last week.
Canada lacks detailed statistics on vaccination rates among health care workers. Among eligible Canadians 12 or older, 81 percent have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while nearly 68 percent have been vaccinated.
These numbers place Canada among the world leaders in vaccination rates. However, there are signs that uptake is beginning to taper off – which some experts have warned that a fourth wave of the pandemic may be on the horizon.
The delta variant, which is more transmissible than previous versions of the coronavirus, now accounts for the majority of new cases in Canada.
Will vaccine mandates be suspended in court?
according to Article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal By three law professors at the University of Ottawa, making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health care workers would be an effective public health policy likely to withstand any legal challenges.
The paper’s authors – Colin M. Flood, Brian Thomas and Komanan Wilson – If governments require vaccines for health care workers, challenges to this policy under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are likely to persist.
The article says, “Governments must be able to successfully defend such a challenge” as long as provisions are made for people with underlying health conditions and those who oppose vaccination on the basis of “honest religious or conscientious objection”.
The authors said that mandates from employers can be more prone to legal challenges, which can be brought under labor laws rather than charter.