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Chelsey St. Pierre – The Suburban LJI Reporter

Thousands of healthcare workers are facing suspension as the October 15th vaccination deadline approaches. The Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers auxiliaires du Québec and the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec added themselves this week to a growing list of professional orders planning to suspend licences.

At a time when the healthcare system is on the brink of a collapse, various professional orders have spoken out. Now the largest nursing union, the Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), announced that it will challenge the licence suspensions in court if they cause disproportionate harm to its members.

The vaccine mandate for public and private healthcare workers was first announced at the beginning of September, in an effort to limit the damage that the fourth wave of the pandemic may cause by limiting the spread in healthcare institutions. The mandate however, touches professionals with or without patient contact, including remote healthcare workers and will cause an additional shortage to the existing shortage of staff.

“It is clear to the FIQ that the priority remains the protection of the health and safety of the most vulnerable people and of network personnel,” the FIQ said in a statement. “On the other hand, the FIQ considers that the decision is excessive.” Nurses, PAB's and other healthcare professionals are already working overtime to make up for the current shortages.

“We don’t know how we’re going to get through this without services being impacted,” Johanne Riendeau, president of the Syndicat des professionnelles en soins de santé de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal said. Thousands of health-care workers will have their licences suspended if they are not adequately vaccinated by Friday and will be barred from going to work.

According to Riendeau, the suspensions are an unfair punishment for people who are already losing their income. “We’re really prohibiting people from being able to go work elsewhere,” she said. “These nurses, these auxiliary nurses, they paid for their licences.”

The decision does not only affect workers who are being suspended, but it also affects those who are adequately vaccinated and who are remaining on board in the storm of the fourth wave. They will now be facing a worsening shortage. “The staff is very worried, the staff is asking how we’ll be able to provide care,” Riendeau said.

Patient care will be affected as well. Riendeau says that she is especially concerned about the emergency room at the Lakeshore General Hospital, and the maternity wards at St. Mary’s hospital, LaSalle hospital and the Lakeshore General hospital.

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