Vaccination The Ontario government’s plan to privatize vaccine delivery will undermine the ongoing publicly delivered vaccine rollout in Durham Region, according to CUPE 1764.

The Local represents 350 paramedics employed by the Regional Municipality of Durham, who are administering vaccines through in-home services and mobile vaccination clinics.

Kristie Osmond-Jones, president of CUPE 1764, said there is no need for the provincial government to interfere with vaccine rollout in Durham and privatize a public service.

“What is the purpose of bringing in a private for-profit company to administer vaccines? Why should public tax dollars go towards executive pay and corporate profits? The municipal government is capable of providing this service without interference from the province,” Osmond-Jones said.

The Ontario government has begun the process of contracting out vaccine provision across the province to Medavie Health Services, a for-profit corporation.

Medavie has recently posted job openings for certified paramedics in Toronto, Peel and Durham Regions “to assist with mobile vaccination clinics in the province of Ontario.”

However, Medavie is not a licenced ambulance service and therefore, its employees cannot be described as paramedics in the performance of this work.

“The provincial legislation stipulates that paramedic services need to be publicly-delivered through regional municipal governments,” said Osmond-Jones. “To bring in an unlicensed provider raises concerns about quality of service, workplace safety, and administration of services.”

Osmond-Jones said the people of Durham must fight this privatization scheme to maintain quality of services and receive value for their tax dollars.

“We know through experience that privatization of health services results in inferior quality. The higher death rates in for-profit long-term care homes during the pandemic served yet another painful reminder of this fact. Are we seriously considering going down the same route again?” she said.