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August 26, 2021

Message to Canada’s Nurses from Linda Silas re: mandatory vaccinations

Occupational Health & Safety

Throughout this pandemic, the CFNU has consistently aligned its position with science, evidenced-based decision-making, and a precautionary approach.

When COVID-19 first emerged and little was known about how it spread, the CFNU fought for PPE and airborne precautions to keep nurses safe – to keep everyone safe. We pushed governments and employers to put safety first by adhering to the precautionary principle. When vaccines became available, we made sure vulnerable populations and health care workers would be first in line. Next, we launched a nationwide campaign to encourage all Canadians to trust nurses and get vaccinated.

The COVID-19 vaccines remain our most effective way of combatting this pandemic. They are an important layer of protection that reinforce our other defenses, such as masking and social distancing.

All eligible Canadians should be vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, their friends and their communities. Getting vaccinated is especially important to protect our nation’s children, who still cannot get vaccinated.

Now, public health officials are telling us that anyone who works in direct contact with the public should be vaccinated. While this has become a divisive issue, it is a position anchored in science, not ideology. One thing is clear: COVID-19 is not the seasonal flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Delta variant is more transmissible than the common cold, the 1918 Spanish flu, smallpox, Ebola, MERS and SARS. Close to 27,000 people in Canada have already perished; we need a concerted effort to prevent more deaths.

Nurses’ unions will work with governments and employers to facilitate this effort, while ensuring that nurses who require accommodations under the Human Rights Code, whether for health or religious reasons, will be supported.

The pandemic has brought us untold amounts of heartache and loss. It isn’t lost on me that nurses bore an especially heavy burden. At every opportunity, I remind our decision-makers of the sacrifices you have made fighting this virus and caring for the sick – and how urgently we need to address the nursing shortage, give nurses a much-needed break, and provide them with adequate psychological support.

We can bring this pandemic to an end if we work together and trust in each other.

Thank you.

Linda Silas,
CFNU President

For the CFNU’s complete position statement on vaccination against COVID-19, click here.

Nurses across the country are standing up, fighting back and demanding change. The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is organizing a National Day of Action, and we need you to be a part of it. Visit our website to learn more and access resources to get your workplace involved: