Can health mandates and vaccines be a condition of employment?

Posted on April 21, 2022 | By Richard Woodbury | 0 Comments

As Nova Scotia moved toward Phase 5 of its initial COVID-19 reopening last fall, Halifax restaurateur Kourosh Rad prepared for the day. The biggest feature of Phase 5 was a proof-of-vaccination policy for non-essential activities, such as going to restaurants or the movies. Delayed once, the province reached Phase 5 on Oct. 4, 2021.

 

 

While proof of vaccination applied to customers wanting to dine in at a restaurant, it didn’t apply to the staff. To help protect the safety of his staff and guests, Rad talked with the staff of his restaurant, The Garden, to see if they were comfortable with having a workplace vaccination policy. The response was unanimous. “Our industry has been the one affected the most [by the COVID-19 pandemic], so our staff recognize the importance of getting through these times,” said Rad. “We haven’t had any issues with anyone being against the vaccination.”

Under occupational health and safety laws, employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace. “In the wake of a global pandemic, what we’ve been seeing thus far is the occupational health and safety requirements are such that these vaccine policies in a lot of workplaces, not all, are valid,” said Maggie Hughes, a lawyer with Cox and Palmer in Charlottetown.

Her firm has a vaccine mandate.

The COVID-19 vaccines used in Canada are safe and help prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

As provinces reopen and drop public health restrictions, people might wonder whether vaccine mandates still have a home in the workplace. “The answer to that is yes,” said Mark Tector, a partner with Stewart McKelvey in Halifax, another firm with a vaccine mandate.

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