Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday October 13, 2021
Canada faces wave of terminations as workplace vaccine mandates take effect
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. (CTV)