A legal organization is suing the B.C. government to end its COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announced Thursday it has filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court, demanding that the provincial government rescind its mandates, which require certain health care professionals to take the COVID-19 shots as a condition for their employment.
On March 7, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an order that requires regulatory health colleges to give personal information about their registrants to the Ministry of Health in order for the ministry to verify the registrants’ vaccination status.
The order covers 18 categories of health care professionals, from doctors and nurses to massage therapists, pharmacists, dentists, naturopaths, and traditional medicine practitioners.
If a member’s vaccination records are missing, the order requires that person to release those details to their college by March 31 and, if requested by the ministry, colleges would then have to disclose the member’s vaccination status.
The new order differs from last month’s announcement when Henry said all regulated health professionals vaccinated with one dose before March 24 could continue to work only if they received a second dose within 35 days.
The February mandate was an update to the October 2021 order, which required all health care professionals and staff who work in or for the province’s health authorities, care facilities, or other designated facilities to show proof of receiving all doses of approved COVID-19 vaccine, or have their jobs lost, the Justice Centre noted.
The Justice Centre said between August 2021 and February this year, Henry issued a series of orders that allowed employers, operators, and contractors to obtain personal information from health care practitioners and staff, as well as their COVID-19 vaccination status.
“These Orders compelled health care practitioners and staff to provide their legal names, dates of birth, and personal health numbers, as well as their COVID-19 vaccination status, to their employers, upon request,” said the Justice Centre in a press release on March 17.
“The orders also forced employers and contractors to report the health care practitioners’ and staff members’ personal information and vaccination status to the BC Government.”
The Justice Centre said their legal challenge to the B.C. government focuses on the violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to life, liberty and security of the person, freedom of religion and conscience, and equality rights. Their challenge also includes the violation of the right to informed consent, and violations of the privacy of health care workers.
Justice Centre staff lawyer Charlene Le Beau argued that Henry’s orders should not be of higher authority than the Charter.
“The Charter is the highest law in the land, and no Order or legislation outranks and outweighs the Charter’s protection of fundamental freedoms such as freedom of religion and freedom of conscience,” she said in a statement on March 17.
The legal team also noted that the available exemptions to the province’s vaccine mandates are “very limited medical reasons” as determined by the governmental authorities instead of the patient’s doctor.
“Under the current public health Orders, a health care worker would have to have taken one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, and experienced a serious adverse reaction, or been diagnosed with myocarditis or pericarditis, to have a deferral request even considered by Dr. Henry,” the legal organization said.
“There are no exemptions to the vaccine mandate set out by these public health Orders on grounds of religious belief or conscience.”
Le Beau said given that the COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission, it is an “unjustifiable act of discrimination and a violation of the Charter” to ostracize those health care professionals who choose to make their personal medical choices.
“We depended on these hard-working health care workers throughout the first year of COVID and there were no vaccines available,” she said.
“To fire them from their jobs now because they exercise bodily autonomy or have objections to the vaccines based on their beliefs, is an act of two-faced hypocrisy and a betrayal of those workers who have sacrificed so much for Canadians.”
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.
Original link : Legal Organization Sues BC Government to End Vaccine Mandates for Health Care Workers