Opposition Liberal party calling on mandatory vaccinations for Quebec health-care workers

The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) is calling on the Legault government to be "much more coercive" and force health care workers to be vaccinated.

"We're there now," Liberal health critic Marie Montpetit said in an interview Thursday, saying she was "very much in favour of mandatory vaccination" after reviewing the latest figures.

Earlier this week, The Canadian Press reported that 77 per cent of health-care workers across the province have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses.

However, in half of Quebec's administrative regions, the percentage of employees adequately vaccinated is below 75 per cent, according to data The Canadian Press obtained from the Ministry of Health.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) took a stand in favour of mandatory vaccination for health care workers across the country.

They cited the "emergence of highly contagious variants", the "stagnation of vaccination rates across Canada" and the "fundamental duty" of workers to ensure patient health.

"We have a weapon against COVID and that is the vaccine. So it's common sense that people who are close to patients get vaccinated. It's a matter of protecting the public," said Montpetit.

"I think people have had time to have their concerns addressed. Now there is the threat of the Delta variant, which should lead the government to be more coercive... right now," she added.

Currently, employees in the Quebec health network are covered by Ministerial Order 2021-024 and must provide their employer with proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Workers who have not received a dose of vaccine, or who refuse to provide proof of vaccination, must undergo preventive screening three times a week.

Health Minister Christian Dubé's office did not respond to the Liberal release on Thursday afternoon.

Québec Solidaire (QS) said it was relying on Quebec Institute of Publice Health (INSPQ) experts, "who have judged so far that there is no substantial advantage to making the vaccine mandatory."

"We are following the evolution of the situation and scientific expertise on the subject," said QS press secretary Mélanie Guillemette.

The Parti Québécois (PQ) is expected to address the issue at an upcoming caucus meeting.

In a sign that impatience with the unvaccinated is growing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke on Thursday of mandatory vaccination for some federal employees.

Montpetit is also calling on the Legault government to obtain the vaccination status of teachers three weeks before the start of the school year.

The Ministry of Health told The Canadian Press this week that this data does not exist, since teachers are not required to inform their employers whether they are vaccinated or not.

"It's very unfortunate that the government has neglected to collect this data, when we know that schools are breeding grounds," said the Liberal MNA.

"The priority is to keep classes open. In light of the data, the government will have to make decisions, and put actions in place if necessary."

  COVID-19 CASES IN QUEBEC
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-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Aug. 5, 2021.

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