At least 252 hospital staff in Waterloo region put on unpaid leave for not showing proof of vaccination

Workers in Waterloo region's three hospitals were required to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination by Tuesday or face being placed on unpaid leave. As of the afternoon, at least 252 were moved to unpaid leave.

Hospital workers in Ontario region were required to show proof of COVID-19 shots by Tuesday

Hospitals in Waterloo region said workers had to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Tuesday or face being placed on unpaid leave. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Numbers from Waterloo region's hospitals show at least 252 workers are being moved to unpaid leave after not showing proof of being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Hospital workers in the Ontario region were required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Tuesday.

Cambridge Memorial Hospital said 51 people chose not to get vaccinated or share their vaccination status with the hospital.

St. Mary's General Hospital said some staff members were still submitting proof of vaccination Tuesday, but numbers of staff that have been moved to unpaid leave hovered just above 30 as of 3 p.m.

A spokesperson for Grand River Hospital said the hospital was still working with staff about their vaccination status as of 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, and anticipates at least 171 staff will be impacted.

All three hospitals said last week that while the vast majority of workers are vaccinated, those who aren't will be placed on unpaid leave.

As of last week, vaccination rates at local hospitals were:

  • Grand River Hospital: 94.4 per cent of staff and physicians fully vaccinated while another 1.5 per cent have received their first dose.
  • St. Mary's General Hospital: 98 per cent of staff are fully vaccinated.
  • Cambridge Memorial Hospital: 96.8 per cent of staff were either fully vaccinated or have gotten one dose and have submitted a signed attestation to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 9.

Guelph General Hospital said in an email to CBC News it had 31 staff members on unpaid leave.

'Vaccines save lives'

"We know that the science demonstrates that vaccines save lives. After the way we have seen COVID impact our communities, we owe it to everyone to add this layer of protection and do everything we can," St. Mary's president Lee Fairclough said in a release.

Grand River chief executive officer Ron Gagnon said having staff vaccinated is part of what's required to keep the community safe.

"I understand that staff are still coming forward to be vaccinated, which is encouraging," Gagnon said in a release.

"We also recognize that there may be an impact on selected services and wait times, and [the hospital] will do everything we can to ensure that we are mitigating that impact and providing our community with safe, quality care." 

Dr. Peter Potts, joint chief of staff at Grand River Hospital and St. Mary's General Hospital, said in a release that physicians and health-care workers have seen the "health consequences and risk to human life that COVID-19 has presented."

"We must utilize the science that we rely on every day and mandatory vaccinations across our hospitals ensure that we are doing everything we can as doctors and healthcare professionals to protect our patients and each other."


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