NS prepares for loss of unvaccinated public education and healthcare personnel | COVID-19 | Halifax, Nova Scotia
Oith less than two weeks until all Nova Scotia public employees in the health, education and long-term care sectors must show proof of COVID vaccination to continue working, sectors are developing contingency plans to deal with the loss of personnel.
“When we put the policy in place, we did it by accepting that we were going to lose people who just don’t want to get vaccinated for whatever reason,” Premier Tim Houston told reporters after the cabinet. Thursday.
As of November 16, reported staff vaccination rates ranged from 89% to 99%. While 99% of IWK staff have reported their vaccination status and 99% of them are vaccinated, home care and education only heard from 78 and 75%, respectively. Employees who have not shared their vaccination status by the end of the month will be placed on unpaid administrative leave.
“We know the situation in the healthcare system, we know the pressure that those who work in our healthcare system are under, the same with education,” Houston said. “So every time we lose someone, it hurts, it does.”
The biggest risk to Nova Scotians, Houston says, would be exposing potentially vulnerable people in hospitals, schools or long-term care facilities to unvaccinated staff. The Prime Minister says it is not a risk he is prepared to take.
“Am I concerned about the number [of potentially unvaccinated workers]? Yeah, I’m worried. But weighing the pros and cons of the decision, this policy moves forward,” he said.
Nova Scotia Health Authority has 94% of staff vaccinated, with 88% reporting. The IWK Health Center has 99 percent vaccinated with 99 percent reporting. In long-term care, 93% of staff are vaccinated and 89% declare. In emergency health services, 99% of staff are vaccinated, of which 88% report. Home care has 89% of vaccinated workers, of whom 78% report. In public education, 97% are vaccinated, with 75% reporting, the lowest of any sector. Houston said he wouldn’t call those numbers “good,” but said “they could be worse.”
Each of these sectors is preparing for potential disruption from the loss of staff, the Prime Minister said, in order to keep services operating with fewer workers. For vaccinated staff who will continue to work understaffed, “it will be harder for them, there is no doubt”.
Houston says he hopes with contingency planning, the loss of utility workers “will not be obvious” to Nova Scotians. “But we’ll see what the final numbers look like and go from there.”
NDP Leader Gary Burrill says it’s not enough to say work is in progress, and he’d like to see details on how disruption will be avoided. “They clearly have an idea of the numbers that will be lost…I think it behooves them to explain how they plan to move forward with this loss of staff without causing a loss of services,” Burrill said. . “I think they should do it as soon as possible.”
Health and long-term care
Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Barbara Adams said some long-term care homes will need to bring in casual staff or nurses from other provinces to cover shortages, and some homes have suspended preventive admissions.
“We’ve been through this before, especially when the pandemic first hit when we had a lot of people waiting for test results,” Adams said. She is in close contact with more than 130 long-term care homes and says their staffing needs will vary.
Health Minister Michelle Thompson says she’s doing similar work with the health sector to figure out where the gaps are, but “I don’t know if we can fully mitigate them,” she said. declared. “It’s not going to be transparent, so we’re working as closely as possible with districts and areas to better support them,” she said.
Education Minister Becky Druhan says there are “a myriad” of reasons teachers and other school staff in Nova Scotia may not yet have reported their vaccination status, although that she did not specify what those reasons might be. Education has the lowest reporting figures of any public sector at 75%.
Druhan says there are plans underway at regional education centers to seek to fill potential gaps after Nov. 30.