SEIU Healthcare and Women’s College Research Institute release interim findings on research of over 8,700 frontline workers

Richmond Hill, Ontario — SEIU Healthcare, a union representing over 60,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario, and researchers at Women’s College Research Institute, conducted a survey of over 8,700 frontline healthcare workers and report that 4 out of 5 are potentially willing to take COVID-19 vaccines if personal financial barriers are eliminated.

The research demonstrates the provincial government can accelerate vaccination uptake among frontline workers by providing modest financial assistance to precariously employed workers, especially those without access to paid sick leave.

“As the government plans to ramp up vaccine roll-out, it’s important that their plan eliminate all barriers to vaccination for frontline healthcare workers. That’s why we’re calling on Premier Ford’s government to provide financial support for those healthcare workers who lack paid sick leave and are anxious about missing work because of potential side effects from the vaccine,” said Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare. “It’s also critical that workers be compensated for the time and cost to travel to off-site vaccination centres, like those at Orangeville’s Headwaters Health Care Centre who must travel over an hour to get the vaccine in Brampton.”

“We need to build trust and ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Noah Ivers, a family physician, scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute and the University of Toronto, as well as the scientific lead for the project and co-lead of the 19toZero coalition in Ontario. “We have spent months thinking about how to build vaccine confidence. This survey shows us a simple approach: governments can show how convinced they are that the vaccines are safe by saying that any missed work for side effects will covered, by guaranteeing sick pay for those who might have side effects. This would display confidence in the vaccine, and I expect it would cost very little because studies show that missing work after the vaccine is very, very rare. But the symbolism would be meaningful.”


  • 8,700 frontline healthcare workers surveyed across Ontario
  • 81% report being very likely or somewhat likely to take the vaccine (58% very likely, 23% somewhat likely)
  • 64% report being worried about losing paid work time in order to take the vaccine or because of lost paid time resulting from adverse vaccine side effects
  • 68% would be more likely to get the vaccine if all costs related to the vaccine were guaranteed, including paid time to get the vaccine, guaranteed paid sick leave in the event of adverse side effects, and compensation for parking or transit

The research was conducted between January 4, 2021 and January 12, 2021. SEIU Healthcare and Women’s College Research Institute teams will conduct a series of focus groups with frontline workers to better inform development of vaccine communications.

Dr. Ivers and Women’s College Research Institute received no financial compensation from SEIU Healthcare for their research efforts.

On December 24, 2020, SEIU Healthcare, together with other unions in the healthcare sector and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), sent a request to the provincial government to fund paid sick leave related to the vaccination for all staff in our hospitals.

On December 29, 2020, SEIU Healthcare, together with AdvantAge Ontario and the OLTCA, sent a similar request to the provincial government to fund paid sick leave related to the vaccination for all staff in the nursing home sector.


SEIU Healthcare represents more than 60,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario. The union’s members work in hospitals, homecare, nursing and retirement homes, and community services throughout the province.

Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) is a multidisciplinary research institute based at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) – Canada’s leading academic, ambulatory hospital and a world leader in women’s health. WCH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and is a member of the Toronto Academic Health Science Network.
Our scientists, all of whom have academic appointments at the University of Toronto, conduct research that improves the health of marginalized communities, helps people prevent and manage complex chronic conditions, and delivers innovative health system solutions.

Our vision is to lead innovative, high impact health research that changes practice, changes policy, and changes lives.