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Unions are calling for the Ontario government to reverse a pandemic policy that allows hospital workers to return to work while infected with COVID-19 if a facility’s staffing situation becomes dire.

Michael Hurley with the Canadian Union of Public Employees says the whole concept is a dangerous threat to the well-being of hospital patients and to those hospital staff who are healthy.

He’s urging the province to look at alternatives, such as offering financial incentives for healthy employees to work longer, redeploying staff or seeking support from the military.

The new provincial direction, issued this month due to unprecedented strain on the health system from the highly transmissible Omicron variant, says health-care employees who are closer to the end of their isolation period should come back to work first and be limited to working with COVID-positive patients.

Canada’s chief public health officer has said the Omicron variant doesn’t appear to have a shorter infectious period than other COVID-19 variants and that people can remain infectious for 10 days after they develop symptoms.

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