WINNIPEG - Manitoba Health says the number of direct-care workers placed on unpaid leaves of absence for failing to follow COVID-19 prevention policies has more than doubled over the past couple of weeks.
Public health orders that came into effect on Monday, October 18 require either proof of vaccination or routine rapid COVID-19 testing for provincial staff who work directly with vulnerable populations. Shared Health says 30 direct-care workers throughout Manitoba who did not present proof of vaccination and had refused to participate in testing the day the orders went into effect were placed on immediate unpaid leaves of absence.
The number of staff on leave for that reason has since increased to 189, with the vast majority, 117 workers, employed in the Southern Health Region, 28 in the Prairie Mountain Region, 24 in the Winnipeg Region, nine in the Interlake-Eastern Region, and two in the Northern Region, while nine Shared Health employees took unpaid leave over regular testing.
The agency says 42,000 of Manitoba’s 60,000 health care employees are considered direct care workers. It says 99 per cent of the workers have chosen to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after initially estimating that about 1,800 would require routine testing.
Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa says Shared Health is seeking to support all staff in making the choice to either become fully immunized against the disease or participate in regular testing. “While vaccination against COVID-19 remains the preference due to its known benefits,” Siragusa says, “We have identified regular rapid testing as a reasonable accommodation for those who are not vaccinated or who do not wish to disclose their vaccination status.”
Siragusa says the tests are non-invasive and self-administered.