In the latest update from the personal care home where my father is a resident, we were informed that visiting privileges would be expanded to include anyone who is two weeks past their second vaccination date. Previously only two designated family members could visit and now others will be able to visit as well, as long as they are fully vaccinated.
All visitors however will still need to wear masks and goggles, do a covid questionnaire, have their temperature taken before entering and stay six feet away from their loved ones.
Ironically another section of the same newsletter responded to numerous inquires from families about whether all the care aides who look after people in the personal care home have been fully vaccinated. The administrators of the home simply don’t know.
Vaccination is still voluntary according to the provincial government and employers cannot ask if a worker is vaccinated. They can offer on-site vaccinations, encourage employees to get vaccinated, and educate employees about vaccination, but they can’t terminate their employment if they aren’t vaccinated.
I would be the last person to criticize long term care workers. Every day when I visit my father I see the vital and very challenging job they do. According to a Canadian Health Care Institute-funded research paper long term care workers are generally middle-aged women, with a high school diploma, who speak English as their second language.
They are paid on average in Canada $18.95 an hour and 25% of them work in more than one care facility for financial reasons because they can’t get enough hours at a single placement. This despite the fact experts recommend long term care facilities should have a lower patient to caregiver ratio than they currently do.
I understand that much needs to be done to improve long term care workers’ salaries and working conditions. We are not treating them fairly given the extremely important work they do. But is it fair to require them to be vaccinated?
A City News story earlier this month said Ontario is making vaccination mandatory for all long term care workers and British Columbia is considering it as well. Is it something Manitoba should consider too?