Ronald McDonald House rejects claims it's evicting families after implementing new vaccine mandate

The Ronald McDonald House is pushing back against claims suggesting it's evicting families after implementing new vaccination requirements.

Earlier this week, families staying at the 73-bedroom Vancouver facility, which provides them with a place to live while their children receive treatment at BC Children’s Hospital, were sent a letter outlining the new policy.

The letter stated that anyone over the age of five who is either living at or visiting the home must have received at least one dose of a vaccine by month’s end.

"The purpose of the the vaccination policy is to ensure that we can provide the safest possible environment for those children who are here with compromised immune systems," Ronald McDonald House spokesperson Shannon Kidd said in an interview with CTV News Vancouver.

However, the policy didn’t go over too well with one Kelowna man.

Unvaccinated resident Austin Furgason, whose four-year-old son is undergoing treatment for Leukemia, posted a video of himself confronting a staff member at the house on Facebook.

“This is some kind of crazy evil,” Furgason can be heard saying in the video.

Furgason went on to write a lengthy post claiming they were being evicted. His posts went viral after being picked up by several American media outlets.

“I think it’s important to set the record straight that we will not be evicting families based on their vaccination status,” said Kidd. “If there are families who choose not to comply with the new policy, we would be working with our local external team to provide alternate accommodations for them."

Another father of a child undergoing cancer treatment told CTV News the new policy caught him and his wife off guard.

"It was a little shocking, for sure,” Brian Blakely said.

His five-year-old son Andrew has since been given a doctor’s exemption, which will allow him to stay at RMH until he enters remission.

Blakely and his wife are both vaccinated, but the new mandate will force him to stay in the Okanagan with his eight-year-old daughter, who is currently unvaccinated.

He says he thinks RMH could have found a better way to notify families of the new rules, but remains grateful for all they offer.

"Everybody needs to just calm down and remember who this is all about,” Blakely said. “It's about the kids."

Kidd says RMH acknowledges their approach could have been better.

“We definitely heard the feedback about how the communication was handled, and will be taking that into account going forward,” she said.