Ontario health minister explains her policies on medical exemptions

Q2. You’re the health minister for Ontario. Your government announced last month that it will be lowering the annual vaccine requirement for almost all vaccines. How can it possibly be that health workers are the problem?

A: So while many British Columbians will no longer have to have their required vaccinations, that doesn’t mean that someone who works for the government won’t have to come into contact with them.

Q3. The reason I’m asking is that once you’re vaccinated, your immunization is not cancelled after you leave the workplace, as it is for an out-of-work exemption. Your immunization is still in effect. Why won’t you require all health workers to have their vaccinations for the ones they work with?

A: Well, the things that I have to look at are the people who receive their vaccine at work and then thereafter, when they’re off work.

Q4. Do you have any thoughts on why some workplaces don’t adopt this?

A: Obviously, I have no answer to that question. You would have to ask those employers. The only thing I can say is that it’s something that we’re looking at and working through.

Q5. Are you aware of any other provinces who have more robust immunization regulations for health care workers?

A: I know that in the health-care sector, there is a high level of vaccination, but in other areas, there’s a population that is not and some of the diseases that exist in the community today are much more prevalent in that population.

Q6. You recently spoke out against the federal government’s notion of allowing caregivers like babysitters and housekeepers to get a conscientious exemption for their immunizations. Could you explain why?

A: I think that is something that would be looked at in a broader way than just in the context of a child care worker or a babysitter or someone that’s caring for someone in their home. It’s a broader set of cases where people would be potential exemption cases.

Q7. You often praise how hospitals are able to balance patient care with getting things done in an efficient way. But your position on your ministry, the administration of public health, seems to be in conflict with that. Can you explain what your priority is?

A: I have to look at the overall responsibility I have for health care and ensure that we’re getting the services that we have from the health-care system the right way. And I think it’s important we’re looking at some of the issues and problems that the system has.

READ MORE: Our health inspectors will help make the system more efficient: Ontario health minister

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