Vancouver – With many British Columbians still working remotely, employers are counting on the COVID-19 vaccine to bring people back to work safely.
“I hope it has topped my mind based on the conversations I have had with so many employers so far,” said Amy Frankel, Forte Law’s employment lawyer. “Employers are a little different from what employees want to do than what employees want to do.”
Given the current principles and status of Canadian law, Frankel said, “It is safe to say that employers are not required to vaccinate as a condition of their employment at this time.”
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry on Wednesday appeared to agree with that assessment.
“We do not have mandatory immunization programs in this country and in this province, and we do not expect COVID immunization to be mandatory,” she told a news conference.
This is a real event in high-risk offices such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, Henry said.
“We strongly encourage everyone in those settings to gain immunity, and if people are thinking of going into those settings and not believing in immunity, they should look for other things,” she says.
While employers cannot force workers to be immunized, airlines can prevent passengers who refuse to be vaccinated from flying.
“They can do it entirely as a private business, and it’s not heard of,” said Allison Wallace, director of media and communications for Flight Center Canada.
Some countries already require travelers to be vaccinated. The CEO of Qantas said his airline would eventually provide proof of the COVID-19 vaccine to all passengers.
Wallace hopes to be consistent with other major carriers.
“I think it’s very, very possible and people should consider it in the future,” she says. “It will be a while before they make it mandatory, but for someone who is definitely reluctant to get vaccinated or entertain the idea, their travel options may be limited in the future.”
Airlines employees will be in the gray area, one of many vaccine-related employment cases, the fight will end in a court of law in Frankel ts.
“It will be very interesting to see how it unfolds in the courts and in the referendum court,” she said.