Can Employers Mandate the Covid Vaccine?
In a Canadian Medical Association Journal article published this year (link to full document below), the topic of mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers was examined.
In many US states, employers have initiated policy that requires their employees to be immunized against the Covid virus, with the penalty of suspension or even termination, for noncompliance.
The authors of this article are suggesting that rather than individual employers setting policy, which would have a greater risk of not withstanding legal challenge, that the Canadian government enact provincial wide mandates. There would be appropriate exemptions due to pre-existing health conditions or religious objection, however, vaccine skepticism would not be an acceptable reason. This article goes on to state that termination would likely be contrary to the Charter, and that unpaid leave would be a more appropriate penalty.
Currently vaccinations are voluntary, so it is uncertain if the government will take the route these authors discussed. If left up to employers, there is a need to balance safety against an individuals personal choice and human rights, to maintain a safe workplace.
In a recent poll of 30 long-term care and retirement homes in Southwestern Ontario, 21% of front-line health care workers stated they would not be getting vaccinated.
The issue of defense through the proper use of PPE, the ability to social distance and specific workplace settings may surface, and evidence to this challenge is still emerging.
For further information regarding this article: Mandatory vaccination for health care workers: an analysis of law and policy (cmaj.ca)