Nearly 80 employees at Toronto long-term care home suspended without pay after receiving COVID-19 vaccine

TORONTO-Nearly 80 employees at a nursing home in Toronto have been suspended without pay for failing to show evidence of vaccination against COVID-19, staff say.

On Thursday, 20 of the staff gathered outside Copernicus Lodge, located on Roncesvalles Avenue near Queen Street, to protest the vaccination policy.

Staff confirmed that 76 employees, about a third of the staff at the plant, have been suspended without pay as a result of the policy. Protesters did not want to speak to CTV News Toronto, but instead chose to protest silently by displaying signs saying “freedom of our medical choice” and “stopping discrimination for the vaccinated and non-vaccinated.”

According to a letter obtained by CTV News, the nursing home staff provided staff until October 4 to show evidence of at least one vaccine dose. By November 4, staff are expected to be able to prove that they are fully vaccinated.

The dates are broadly in line with the province’s mandate, announced on October 1, and require all caregivers, support workers and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-November.

vaccine protest copernicus lodge

Anyone who has not yet received both doses of a vaccine and has not given a valid medical exemption will not be able to enter the facility.

Staff, support staff, students and volunteers have until November 15 to show proof that they have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or a valid medical exemption. If they do not, they will not be able to enter the facility.

Long-term care minister Rod Phillips said at the time that since the province does not employ long-term care staff, the decision on each worker’s employment status will be up to the operator of the home.

“If you’re one of the employees who has not yet been vaccinated, I ask you to go and order your first shot,” Phillips said at the time. “Make a choice to protect yourself, your colleagues and the residents who depend on you every day.”

When asked about Copernicus Lodge on Wednesday, Phillips only said that there is a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than there is of having staffing problems in the home.

While the protest outside Copernicus Lodge received some support from passing cars, family members of residents and those walking past the sidewalk had differing opinions.

Yola Edwards, whose mother lives at Copernicus Lodge, said she is frustrated by the lack of empathy from those who choose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She also says the home is still in lockdown as a result of outbreaks.

“They’re still locked because you have unvaccinated staff bringing coronavirus,” she said.

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Resident Margaret Anthony said she is saddened to see the protest that so many people in long-term care died as a result of COVID-19.

“People do not seem to understand the seriousness of the situation. And the reality is that it is not over. It’s not over. “

According to the latest provincial data released on October 1, about 63 percent of the staff at Copernicus Lodge are considered fully vaccinated. 65 percent have received at least one dose.

There is currently an outbreak of COVID-19 at Copernicus Lodge.

Featuring files from CTV News Toronto’s Sean Leathong

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