In a stunning announcement, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced Wednesday that he is delaying until Nov. 15 the deadline for the province's health care workers to be fully vaccinated or face suspension without pay. Dubé, who also said that 96 percent of health care workers have received at least a first vaccine dose, told a press conference "it would be irresponsible to gamble with the health of Quebecers."
Dubé said he had heard presentations and contingency plans, "and when we had the potential departure of unvaccinated staff, we found ourselves adding undue pressure on our network, and especially on the vaccinated health workers. If we continued like this, we would run into a wall."
The Health Minister said officials had analyzed different scenarios. "If we accept vaccinated staff with a single dose, more than 14,000 people would be lost and even by accepting various scenarios of unvaccinated people in critical places, we could be around 12,000 people [lost], and therefore we made the difficult decision late last night to postpone the implementation of the decree on mandatory vaccinations.... But I want to be clear, we will apply the mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers, but postponing the 30-day deadline is the best solution under the circumstances. "Let's be honest, there are no perfect solutions."
Dubé also announced that beginning Monday Oct. 18, unvaccinated employees in contact with patients "will have to be tested for COVID three times a week before their shift. This will be in the public network, but we're not excluding extending this to the private network.“
Dubé also announced that all those newly hired in the public network will have to be adequately vaccinated, "and we also maintain the obligation of visitors and caregivers to have a vaccination passport when they enter [health facilities]."
The Health Minister also issued a plea to health care workers who are still not fully vaccinated."We are reaching out to you and we sincerely hope you will take this offer. Please do it for yourselves, your loved ones and for your colleagues because they really need you."