About 160 veteran nurses, personal support workers and health-care technicians, along with their families, gathered in a church hall in Port Perry, Ont., in person or by video conference, on a snowy afternoon this past Saturday.
These distressed individuals have a message for patients waiting for health care in the province: we want to work on the front lines but are being shut out.
“I am ready, willing and able to work,” Lori Turnbull told CTV National News. But nobody will hire her.
The 58-year-old once worked in surgery and rehabilitation but was fired a year ago from a hospital in London, Ont., after a 30-year career.
In fact, all of the health workers in this unusual audience were terminated after declining to get two COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021, as required by all 140 of Ontario’s public hospitals and some nursing and retirement homes.
“I worked in emergency … for 20 years,” Casie Desveaux, a nurse from Hamilton, Ont., told CTV National News “I dedicated myself to that job.”
She now says she works in an office for her brother. She knows her hospital remains seriously understaffed.
“I worry … for the staff that are there … It is very scary,” she said.
The group at the church gathering wants Ontarians to know there are experienced front-line workers who want to return to duty but are blocked by vaccine policies imposed by hospitals in the province, despite Ontario itself not requiring health workers to be vaccinated.
“I think people were aware that we were fired or let go,” Anna Luxton, who worked as an emergency nurse, told CTV National News. “But I think since the province said they lifted the mandates last March that [people] figured that we would have