WINNIPEG — The number of front-line health-care workers who are on unpaid leave because they refuse to provide proof of vaccination or take a COVID-19 test has grown to 158 — more than half work in the Southern Health region.
Management has had to redeploy staff from other programs in the region to Eastview Place in Altona and Salem Home in Winkler "to ensure ongoing quality care and services," a Shared Health spokesman said Wednesday.
"Designated family caregivers are continuing to visit and provide some support with feeding and visiting at some sites," he said in an email.
Last week, Salem Home in Winkler and Tabor Home in Morden sent letters to residents’ families advising them there may be staffing shortages on Monday when vaccination or COVID-19 testing became a requirement for direct-support workers, and that they could be asked to help care for their loved ones.
The system has been able to deal with the absences, Shared Health said Wednesday.
"Contingency plans have been, and continue to be, in place and the staffing impacts continue to be very closely monitored."
Additional resources, including the COVID-19 casual pool of workers and internationally educated nurses have volunteered to provide staffing support and are being added to work schedules, he said.
Of 42,000 Manitoba health-care workers, 158 are on unpaid leaves of absence for refusing to comply with the public health orders that took effect Monday.
Most are in rural Manitoba, Shared Health data show.
Just 17 are employed by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and three work for Shared Health, while 138 are outside the city: 83 in Southern Health, 27 in Interlake-Eastern, 26 in Prairie Mountain and two in the Northern region.
No health-care staff at CancerCare Manitoba refused to get vaccinated or tested.
Those on unpaid leave represent a variety of professions, the Shared Health spokesman said.
Aside from the care homes in Altona and Winkler, the "vast majority" of health-care facilities are reporting no "significant" impacts related to the employers being off work, he said.
Shared Health issued a reminder to members of the public and those on an unpaid leave of absence not to disrupt or block people who enter and leave facilities and to stay off health authority and health-care facility property.
"Health-care workers, designated family caregivers and visitors must continue to have unimpeded access to facilities, including access to parking for their use," Shared Health said.
"Everyone is asked to be mindful that these facilities are the homes of PCH residents who have entrusted us with their care. We must remain respectful so as to not disrupt their sense of security."
» Winnipeg Free Press