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Unvaccinated New Brunswick health-care workers return to work

Unvaccinated New Brunswick healthcare workers returned to work Monday, after being put on unpaid leave late last year.

The provincial government dropped the vaccination requirement for most public employees in late March, but waited another two weeks before ending the mandate for staff of the two health authorities, Extra-Mural, Ambulance New Brunswick, long-term care homes, as well as staff at correctional facilities.

Dr. John Dornan, president, and CEO of the Horizon Health Network said unvaccinated employees would be required to take additional steps upon their return.

“They are going to be tested, antigen testing, point of care testing, three times per week,” he said. “They’re going to be screened for symptoms that could suggest COVID, and we all know that sometimes (symptoms) seem to be trivial when they could be a hint of COVID. So we are going to be monitoring those staff for their own health, the health of our patients, and for the health of their colleagues.”

The vaccination mandate is ending with as many as 700 healthcare workers unable to work in New Brunswick last week due to COVID-19.

Dornan said he didn’t believe the decision to drop the mandate was influenced by staff shortages.

When the mandate began, approximately 700 healthcare workers in New Brunswick weren’t fully vaccinated. As of Monday, the Department of Social Development listed two long-term care facilities out of 540 with less than half its staff fully vaccinated.

Green Party leader David Coon said the decision to drop the mandate was “a sign of panic and desperation.”

On Monday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the number of staff off work due to COVID-19 had begun to level off in the last few days. Updated absentee numbers due to COVID-19 within the province’s healthcare system weren’t immediately made available on Monday. Top Stories


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