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BC Doctors Fundraising for Legal Fight Over Vaccine Mandate for Health Workers

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks in the press theatre at the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on March 10, 2022. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

B.C. doctors out of work for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine are crowdfunding to raise financial support for a court battle against the provincial government in November.

Vascular surgeon Dr. York Hsiang, psychiatrist Dr. David William Morgan, and clinical resource nurse Hilary VanderGugten filed a request for judicial review on June 10 to challenge the ban on unvaccinated doctors instituted by B.C. Provincial Health Officer (PHO) Dr. Bonnie Henry in November 2021.

On Sept. 15 this year, the PHO submitted an affidavit of rebuttal which, according to the website of the Canadian Society for Science and Ethics in Medicine (CSSEM), consists of 2,500 pages and stacks five inches high.

“The taxpayers of BC have had to pay for this superfluous ream of paper,” CSSEM writes on its front page. “Our lawyers have only a few weeks to submit our rebuttal … but it’s going to be good. We just continue to follow the science and the truth.”

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Dr. Hsiang said he would have preferred Henry make the submission rather than Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Brian Emerson.

“I think the reason is that the government does not want [Henry] to get up on the stand to be cross-examined. … You can cross-examine if you can convince the judge that cross-examination is essential for your case, and so that’s what the lawyers are preparing to convince a judge of,” Hsiang said.

“We have essentially asked for the judge to review the reasonableness of what the PHO is doing. … We’re really requesting them to come up with the science that is the basis of their ongoing orders.”

Hsiang said their argument to Justice Simon Coval, who is hearing the case, will be straightforward.

“All the other provinces with the exception of Nova Scotia are bringing back their health-care workers. Is it still reasonable to keep the health-care workers on the sidelines, given the new evidence? Because there’s been a change in the severity of the virus, given the fact that for Omicron the vaccines didn’t work particularly well in terms of preventing someone from getting ill, or preventing transmission,” he said.

He notes that very little of the government affidavit addresses the scientific arguments in the case.

“Most of their response, it was really just government information, things like their policy.”

The Epoch Times contacted the B.C. Ministry of Health and Dr. Brian Emerson but received no comments.

Previous Cases

Constitutional challenges against the mandates by other groups have been set back at the B.C. Supreme Court. On Aug. 29, a challenge by Rocco Galati on behalf of Action4Canada was deemed too long a submission. Despite a motion by the defendants to have the case dismissed, the judge said Galati could reapply under an amended submission.

On Sept. 12, a challenge against the mandate on behalf of B.C. citizens denied medical exemptions for vaccines was thrown out by B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation, which launched the challenge, expressed frustration with the decision.

“The court dismissed the case as premature, finding that the three individuals who brought the case around medical exemptions had not exhausted their opportunity to apply to the PHO for a medical exemption. As a result of that finding, Justice Hinkson did not resolve the three petitioners’ arguments regarding Charter breaches,” the group said in a press release.

Hsiang said CSSEM’s case is different because it does not include a constitutional challenge. He adds that the mandate forced him into early retirement, but that’s not an acceptable option for some of the “40-plus” doctors who are at the core of involvement in the legal battle.

“Some of our members have left the country and gone to the States, some to Alberta, and I anticipate that if we lose, these [remaining] people will leave,” he said.

About 100 doctors lost work due to the order requiring all medical staff to be vaccinated for COVID, Hsiang said, with thousands of nurses also sidelined.

‘A Lot of Money to Put Together’

Ten days of court proceedings will start on Nov. 28, which Hsiang said will be expensive for litigants. Charissa, a charity fundraiser in Surrey who requested her last name be withheld, decided to lend her skills to the cause.

“The retainer for the doctors was $150,000, but now it’s been doubled to $300,000. A lot of the doctors have already put in as much as they can, and a lot of them are not working, so it’s a lot of money for them to put together,” Charissa said in a phone interview.

Charissa said she decided to help after she received a group text that asked if anyone knew how to fundraise.

“I know people who have lost their jobs because of this particular mandate. They haven’t been able to find jobs. It’s difficult to make ends meet,” she said.

The CSSEM has made a donation page on its website to fight the legal case that Hsiang said should not have been necessary.

“ I think it’s a very dangerous draconian measure that the government is doing. … I don’t know why they just keep digging in their heels. It’s very unusual that they want to go down this adversarial route to continue to deny us,”Hsiang said.

“What we want to do is basically just serve the people of British Columbia. We’re not out to fight the government over this. We simply just want to go back to work.”