2 employees depart Ottawa retirement home amid alleged vaccine queue-jumping

Two employees are no longer working at an Ottawa retirement home, according to the owner, following accusations its general manager allowed his wife to get a dose of COVID-19 vaccine that was intended for a front-line worker.

Riverstone Retirement Communities, the company that owns Stirling Park Retirement Community, said Wednesday it has completed its “investigation into recent events” and that “two employees are no longer with the company.”

The company did not confirm the position of those employees but in its statement to CBC News said its “focus will continue to be the health and wellness of our residents and employees.”

An employee at the home earlier alleged — in a letter to the Labourers’ International Union of North America Local 3000, which represents health-care and industrial workers — that a vaccine dose promised to a housekeeper had instead been given to the general manager’s wife, who is retired.

It said the wife shouldn’t have even been in the building because of current COVID-19 restrictions, and described the situation as an “abuse of power.” 

The employee who complained, the general manager and his wife have not been named publicly. 

WATCH | Vaccine misuse may be ‘more widespread,’ union says:

Charlene Nero, with the Labourers’ International Union of North America Local 3000, says the incident at Stirling Park Retirement Community, as well as another case at a nursing home in Vaughan, means the issue of vaccine “queue jumping” may be more widespread than thought. 0:40

Charlene Nero, with the legal department of the union local, said the home also arranged for the housekeeper in question to receive a dose of the vaccine, which happened on Saturday.

“What happened was absolutely wrong and should not have happened but I commend the owners of Sterling Park Retirement Community for springing to action,” Nero said.

The union has filed a complaint to Ontario’s Ministry of Health, asking for more oversight into how the vaccines are being rolled out to ensure cases like these don’t keep happening. This follows similar allegations at a seniors’ home in Vaughan, Ont.

“There just needed to be a little bit of forethought about the whole process that seemed to be lacking. It shouldn’t have been so easy for people to cheat,” Nero said and that she’s “fearful that this is the tip of the iceberg.” 

“If we have located two cases of this kind of inappropriateness, it has to be more widespread and it is absolutely incumbent upon the government to do something about it. The vaccine is precious,” she said.

The ministry did not respond to calls for comment. 

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