About 300 unvaccinated family caregivers are hoping to overturn a government order requiring them to get the jab against COVID-19 before visiting long-term care facilities and seniors’ residences.
Under an order signed Dec. 22 by Health and Social Services Minister Christian Dubé, caregivers must show a vaccine passport , wear a procedural mask, keep a two-metre distance and not have been in isolation for COVID-19 symptoms for at least five to 10 days.
Lawyer Natalia Manole, representing the caregivers and their loved ones, claims that’s not fair.
“The government allows unvaccinated health-care workers to take care of these same people,” she said in an interview Sunday.
On Wednesday, Quebec Superior Court will hear Manole’s request for an injunction and judicial review on behalf of the caregivers.
In October, Manole challenged Quebec’s attempt to impose a vaccine mandate for health-care workers , claiming it violated their rights.
After delaying the deadline by a month on Oct. 13, the government backed down in November, saying that losing an estimated 15,000 unvaccinated health-care workers would put an intolerable strain on the health system.
Instead, unvaccinated workers must be tested for COVID three times a week.
Experts said it would have been impossible to compensate for the loss of the unvaccinated workers, given the already high number of health-care workers who are absent from work because of the virus.
Before Dec. 22, family caregivers were not required to be vaccinated to enter long-term care centres. However, they had to show they had tested negative. Manole is arguing the government should revert to that requirement.
Since her clients have been unable to visit their loved ones, some elderly patients have died, while others have stopped eating and drinking, she said.
The 27-page injunction request argues that family caregivers are an essential part of the health-care system, as demonstrated by the catastrophic death toll in long-term care centres during the pandemic’s first wave, when caregivers were barred. Caregivers play an important role in feeding patients, providing personal care and giving emotional support, it argues.
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