BC Supreme Court rules in favour of COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health-care workers

Health-care workers who pushed back against being forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or face losing their jobs have lost in the BC Supreme Court.

In a ruling released Monday, presiding judge Justice Simon R. Coval says the provincial health officer was right in mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for health-care workers.

The three cases in question were brought to court by a nurse practitioner and two doctors, with all three saying they didn’t want to get the shot.

Two declined receiving the vaccine for personal reasons and “risk-benefit analysis,” with the other refusing on religious grounds.

The parties said the ongoing mandate is “causing ongoing hardship and harm to the unvaccinated healthcare workers who had lost their jobs, and to the healthcare system itself from the absence of these highly qualified personnel.”

They also claimed that the “scientific record no longer indicated that unvaccinated healthcare workers posed any greater risk to vulnerable patients, or the healthcare system generally, than vaccinated workers.”

In their justification, Justice Coval explained that the health orders brought in during October 2021 were necessary, saying vaccination against COVID was the right move because health-care workers who refused to get the shot posed a risk to patients, residents, clients, and their fellow workers.

The judge went on to say that COVID transmission was an “immediate and significant risk” throughout the province and that it was essential to maintain a healthy and strongly staffed health-care system during the pandemic.

The judge added that both of these reasons justified the decision by PHO Dr. Bonnie Henry.

However, the judge also directed the public health officer to reconsider whether firing health-care workers who worked remotely, and not patient-facing, was the right thing to do.

“In my view, there was a lack of justification in the record or Orders to support as reasonable the decision not to consider requests, under s. 43 of the PHA, for reconsideration of the vaccination requirement from healthcare worker unable to perform their roles remotely, or in-person but without contact with patients, residents, clients, or the frontline healthcare workers who care for them,” the judge’s ruling said.

CityNews has reached out to the Ministry of Health and the BC Nurses Union for comment.

With files from Sonia Aslam


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