In long-term care “even a small number of unvaccinated staff” may mean homes stop accepting new residents.

Mandatory vaccine policy puts more than 1,050 NS workers on unpaid leave

“It's unfortunate they are no longer in the workplace, but I'm glad they won't be putting patients, students, seniors and other vulnerable people at risk.”

More than 1,050 Nova Scotia workers in frontline health, education and civil service have been placed on unpaid leave following the province’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, which came into effect Nov 30.

“The few in both mandates who didn't get vaccinated have made their choice,” premier Tim Houston said in a statement. “It's unfortunate they are no longer in the workplace, but I'm glad they won't be putting patients, students, seniors and other vulnerable people at risk.”

Of the 58,500 staff in health care, continuing care, emergency health services and education who reported their vaccine status, 99.2 percent have at least one shot and 97 percent are double vaxxed. Across these sectors 960 employees are out of work because they are unvaccinated or haven’t reported their vaccination.

This still leaves more than 1,900 people who haven’t reported for “various reasons,” according to a statement from the province.

In the civil service, where 97.2 percent are fully vaxxed and 99.1 have at least one dose, 93 staff have been placed on unpaid leave. There remain 621 employees in the civil service who haven’t reported their vaccine status, though many of them are on approved leaves of absence.



Across both sectors 1,053 staff are now off the job and 2,544 people have yet to report their vaccination status.

On Tuesday the province warned that the loss of staff may cause disruptions in busing, particularly in the HRM, and in “small pockets” of other regions. To deal with the expected loss of staff, the regional centre for education is planning to assign drivers different routes or ask drivers to cover additional routes before or after school, which will cause potential delays for students. The province says families of children impacted by bus ride changes will be notified.

In long-term care, where staff shortages are already causing stress in some facilities, it’s possible that “even a small number of unvaccinated staff” may mean homes stop accepting new residents. In order to manage, long-term care homes may be required to bring in nurses from elsewhere or hire new part-time and casual employees.

Premier Tim Houston said he’s expecting few disruptions to service, given that vaccine rates are overall high. “All organizations have contingency plans, but most are anticipating they will not be needed,” reads a statement from the province. Still, the loss of any staff will have an impact.

About The Author

Lyndsay Armstrong

Lyndsay is a city reporter covering all things Halifax, health and COVID-19. She is a data journalist who has covered provincial politics for allNovaScotia.com and represented Nova Scotia in a national investigation into lead in drinking water with the Toronto Star and Global.

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