Just 21 Interior Health care home employees fired due to vaccine requirement

Vax mandate not to blame

While Interior Health is struggling with staffing its long-term care homes in the Central Okanagan moving into the summer months, IH says the issue is not due to the vaccine mandate that went into effect last October.

In an internal memo from earlier this month, executive director of Clinical Operations Danielle Cameron sought help from Central Okanagan clinical operations staff in staffing long-term care homes as existing staff take vacations through the summer months.

Following Castanet's reporting on the issue, a handful of readers were quick to place the blame on Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry's order from last year that required all B.C. care home employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

But Interior Health says just 21 long-term care employees across all of the health authority were fired as a result of that provincial health order.

“Interior Health has 2,225 total care aide positions in long-term care. While every position is valuable, the challenge we are facing is with broader vacancies, not the impact related to the vaccine mandate, which would be minimal as this was less than one per cent of our workforce,” IH spokesperson Karl Hardt said in a statement.

The health authority is seeking additional clinical staffing for Brookhaven Care Centre, Three Links Manor, Cottonwoods Care Centre and David Lloyd Jones care homes, “due to scheduled vacation and baseline vacancies” going into the summer months.

While the federal government has suspended its two-shot requirement for federally regulated workers and for plane travellers, B.C. is sticking with the requirement for for its public servants and healthcare workers for now.

“The current requirement for health-care workers and other staff working in long-term, acute and community care to be vaccinated against COVID-19 helps to protect our healthcare workers and the people receiving care and living in these higher risk settings,” said Amy Crofts, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

“Our health-care facilities and health-care providers care for our most vulnerable, at-risk citizens, so it is important that we maintain this important layer of protection for them. All long-term care/assisted living sites have submitted contingency staffing plans based on their site specific circumstances, which are being monitored and supported by the regional health authorities.”

The Ministry would not say how long these vaccine requirements would remain in place.

“Public health bases all decisions to put in place or lift restrictions on a careful review of where we are in B.C. in this pandemic,” Croft said.

Back in February, Interior Health CEO Susan Brown said 895 employees across all of Interior Health were fired for refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19. This worked out to about 4.3 per cent of the health authority's 21,000 total employees.

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