More than a dozen healthcare workers in Manitoba – many of whom were placed on unpaid leave after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing – are now suing the province.
A statement of claim filed in Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench on June 23 says Shared Health’s vaccination policy was ‘overboard, unreasonable and discriminatory’ and alleges it violated the nurses’ Charter rights.
The plaintiffs on the claim are a group of healthcare workers, including 12 nurses, a home care attendant, two health care aids, and a general duty technologist. The claim alleges the majority of the healthcare workers were placed on unpaid leave after Shared Health put its vaccination policy in place.
The claim is seeking $1 million in damages for each healthcare worker, along with damages for “intentional infliction of mental distress, and assault and battery.”
The policy, which went into effect in October 2021, required all direct care workers to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or participate in regular COVID-19 testing. The policy said those who did not comply or participate in regular testing would be placed on an unpaid leave of absence, according to the claim.
The claim alleges the policy discriminated against those who didn’t get vaccinated or who didn’t want to disclose their vaccine status, and said the mandatory regular testing was invasive.
“The Policy has created a hostile and toxic work environment treating the Plaintiffs as outcasts,” the claim reads, going on to say the plaintiffs, “suffered significant mental anguish.”
It alleges the policy amounts to an assault and a violation under the Criminal Code of Canada.
“Forcing employees to be vaccinated or take invasive rapid testing under threat of loss of livelihood is a violation of the (Criminal Code of Canada),” the claim reads. “Every member of the Shared Health Manitoba Board who supports the police supports the criminal assault of his or her fellow employees and coworkers.”
The claim lists the attorney general of Canada, the government of Manitoba, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s five regional health authorities, and Shared Health, as defendants.
A provincial spokesperson told CTV News the province will defend itself in court. Shared Health declined to comment. As of Thursday, no statement of defence had been filed.
The allegations in the statement of claim have not been tested in court.