Top Story CP
Canada faces wave of terminations as workplace vaccine mandates take effect: Lawyer
HALIFAX — Canada is facing a potential wave of terminations tied to mandatory workplace vaccine policies as a growing number of employers require workers to be fully inoculated against COVID-19 — or risk losing their jobs, legal experts say.
Governments, institutions and companies have spent months hammering out vaccine mandates in a bid to curb an unrelenting pandemic fuelled by variants.
As employer deadlines to be fully vaccinated approach, unvaccinated workers could soon be placed on unpaid leave or terminated altogether, lawyers say.
“We’ve been contacted by thousands of people from across Canada who all have these ultimatums in front of them saying they have to be vaccinated by a certain date or risk losing their jobs,” employment lawyer Lior Samfiru, a partner with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, said in an interview.
“We’re going to see the biggest wave of terminations we’ve seen since the pandemic started,” he said, noting that his firm has been contacted by workers in a range of industries including health care, education, banks, construction and restaurants.
“It will be significant.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled Canada’s new mandatory vaccine policy on Wednesday. It requires the core public service, air travel and rail employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October.
The federal vaccine mandate mirrors provincial policies, such as in Nova Scotia where all school and health-care workers are required to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of November.
Private companies have also developed corporate vaccine mandates, with looming deadlines for staff to be fully vaccinated.
The situation has left legal experts grappling with the tension between protecting the rights of individual workers and ensuring employers meet their health and safety obligations toward staff, clients and the public.
There’s also the question of what reasonable accommodations or exemptions should be available to workers and whether unvaccinated employees who are ultimately terminated are owed compensation.
“There’s an overriding obligation on the employer to make sure the workplace is safe,” said Ron Pizzo, a labour and employment lawyer with Pink Larkin in Halifax.
“With COVID being an acute illness with the potential for loss of life, the risk of harm is pretty high,” he said. “Employers are imposing those policies for valid reasons as they have a duty to keep their workplace safe.”
Pizzo said his firm is getting quite a few calls from people who do not want to vaccinate and want to fight employer vaccination requirements.
Still, he said he’s not expecting mass resignations that will leave companies without enough workers given the relatively high vaccination rate among the general population. Slightly more than 80 per cent of all Canadians aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
Pizzo added that many law firms are introducing mandatory vaccination policies for face-to-face meetings in the office.
Wayne MacKay, professor emeritus at the Dalhousie Schulich School of Law, said employers have to balance the individual rights of workers, such as by offering reasonable accommodations, with maintaining a safe work environment.
But he said a recent review of cases involving the balance between individual rights and public health have sided with the latter.
“I went through a lot of the cases and tribunals and the great majority are saying that while individual rights are important and you should do everything you can to respect them, in the time of a pandemic, reasonable limits are going to be given broad scope,” MacKay said. “Most restrictions that governments are doing have been found to be reasonable given threat of COVID-19.”
While these cases didn’t deal specifically with vaccine mandates, he said the same reasoning would likely apply.
MacKay said there are very few legitimate reasons to seek an exemption to a vaccine policy, such as for medical reasons.
Yet he said some workplaces will likely have a stronger need for a mandatory vaccines than others.
“If you can work exclusively from home, it’s not a very compelling argument at all to require that person to be vaccinated as part of their employment,” MacKay said. “If you are in the public sector and serving the public, then that is a much more credible case for requiring vaccinations.”
As for whether workers who are terminated for refusing to vaccinate are entitled to compensation, he said it depends on the work environment, how valid the need for the policy is and whether the worker was unionized or not.
Samfiru suggested terminated workers who are not paid sufficient compensation could claim wrongful dismissal.
“The employer is imposing a new rule, one that was not part of the original employment agreement,” he said. “That becomes a termination without cause and severance has to be paid. Beyond that, there could be a human rights claim as well.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2021.
Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
Trans, non-binary students under 16 in N.B. need parental consent for pronoun changes
New Brunswick students under the age of 16 who identify as trans and non-binary won’t be able to officially change their names or pronouns in school without parental consent.
Education Minister Bill Hogan made the announcement today as he unveiled his government’s highly anticipated reform to the province’s policy on sexual orientation in schools, known as Policy 713.
Policy 713, which was introduced in 2020, establishes minimum standards for schools to ensure a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBTQ students.
The new policy says the preferred first names and pronouns of students aged 16 and older will be used consistently in ways that the students request.
Hogan says the policy will also ensure that private, universal changing rooms and bathrooms will be available in all schools.
He says the changes, which come into effect July 1, were the product of consultations with hundreds of parents, families, students and advocacy groups.
The province’s decision to review Policy 713 has faced intense scrutiny, with former education minister Dominic Cardy accusing Premier Blaine Higgs of wanting to gut sex education.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.
Gauld nets winner as Whitecaps beat CF Montreal to claim Canadian Championship
VANCOUVER — Ryan Gauld scored the matchwinner off a penalty in the 65th minute as the Vancouver Whitecaps beat CF Montreal 2-1 to ensure the Canadian Championship trophy stays on the West Coast for another year.
Montreal scored its lone goal in the 83rd minute after Vancouver defender Tristan Blackmon failed to clear the ball in his team’s box, allowing Montreal forward Sunusi Ibrahim to tuck it past goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka.
The Whitecaps opened the scoring 57 minutes in off an error from Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, which allowed striker Brian White to slot the ball home.
It’s the second straight year the Whitecaps have claimed the Canadian Championship.
Up until the breakthrough goal, Vancouver had been denied by Sirois’s several acrobatic saves, including one where he stopped what looked like a sure goal with his feet mid-dive.
The Whitecaps outshot Montreal 20-9 with the Quebec side leaving it until late to threaten Takaoka’s goal.
Canada men’s head coach John Herdman presented the Best Young Canadian Player Award to midfielder Ali Ahmed, who missed the match as he continues his recovery from a concussion.
Canada Soccer interim general secretary and former national team player Jason de Vos presented the George Gross Most Valuable Player Award to Julian Gressel, who recorded an assist on White’s opener.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023.
The Canadian Press
Peavey Industries LP, the Red Deer-based retailer, has announced the acquisition of long-term partner and fellow Red Deer stalwart, Guy’s Freightways.
Alberta’s province wide state of emergency ends as wildfire situation improves
The Plan: Lock You Down for 130 Days
Premiers need to keep talking about the health-care crisis: medical associations
Community2 days ago
Tour the 2023 Red Deer Hospital Home Lottery grand prize dream home
Crime2 days ago
Poilievre calls on Liberals to make killers like Bernardo stay in max-security prison
City of Red Deer2 days ago
Red Deer Archives launches Advocate photograph collection
conflict2 days ago
Collapse of major dam in southern Ukraine triggers emergency as Moscow and Kyiv blame each other
Sports2 days ago
PGA Tour, Europe to merge with Saudis and end LIV Golf litigation
Business2 days ago
Saudi Arabia is slashing oil supply. It could mean higher gas prices for US drivers
National1 day ago
Wildfire roundup: A look at what’s burning across the country and who’s affected
Business1 day ago
CNN head Chris Licht is out at the global news network after a brief, tumultuous tenure