Union calling for urgent government action to pave the way for speedier vaccination rollout including transparency, communications, and emergency paid sick leave for healthcare workers

Richmond Hill, Ontario — SEIU Healthcare, a union that represents over 60,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario, is calling on the provincial government to take immediate action to speed up vaccination of essential frontline workers across the entire healthcare system.

The current vaccine roll-out in Ontario is failing due to a lack of transparency, poor communications to frontline providers and insufficient supports for those seeking vaccinations. Our members serving on the frontline continue to report that financial and logistical barriers are preventing them from getting vaccinated.

“Many healthcare workers still don’t know when they are due to be vaccinated, where vaccination will take place, and which vaccine will be offered. Healthcare workers are concerned that they will have to take unpaid time off work to get vaccinated at a time when they’re struggling to pay their bills,” said Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare. “Precariously employed healthcare workers need to know that if they experience side effects from the vaccine, they’ll receive ample paid sick leave to recover at home. Combined, these issues are creating significant barriers to vaccination that must be addressed immediately.”

That’s why we’re calling on the Ontario government to immediately implement the following steps to ensure that frontline workers, and those they serve, are protected by vaccination:

  1. Release a detailed vaccine roll-out schedule that lets essential frontline workers know in advance when and where they can access the various COVID-19 vaccines;
  2. Distribute clear multi-lingual communications to inform frontline workers about the vaccination process;
  3. Provide targeted financial assistance that supports those who request time to consult with their physician about the vaccine, as well as financial assistance for those who require time off work to travel to and from a vaccination site;
  4. Ensure ample paid sick leave for those workers who experience side effects from either dose of the vaccination which prevent them from working.

“Frontline workers have given everything to their communities through this battle with COVID-19. Many have gotten sick. Some have lost their lives. We owe it to these workers – and the people they care for every day – to ensure that vaccines are available and that the barriers that could imperil the vaccination effort are eliminated. Government must act now,” added Stewart.

On December 24th, 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. We received no reply.

On December 29th, 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. Again, we received no reply.


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. www.seiuhealthcare.ca