DOCUMENTS: Federal government has indicated it could force all Canadian workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Senior federal officials were told in the spring that the government may make it mandatory for all workers in Canada to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, The Canadian Press reports.

Internal documents obtained by the Canadian Press using the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the federal government may consider making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory as a “national interest item.”

Trudeau’s Liberals previously announced mandatory vaccination for federal employees and those working in federally regulated industries, such as transportation, banking and telecommunications companies. Although these workers represent less than a tenth of all workers in Canada, the rest are subject to provincial labor laws.

Although public health remains under the jurisdiction of each province and territory, internal documents indicate that the federal government could assume the power to mandate COVID-19 vaccines under the guise of a national COVID-19 emergency. The next step would be to either work with the provinces and territories to develop a set of guidelines or simply develop their own.

According to Martha Jackman, a constitutional law expert at the University of Ottawa, the federal government can impose provincial jurisdiction in an emergency, and the courts would likely show deference to such action during the pandemic. She said:

“It would be fair to say that an exercise of federal power with respect to the pandemic or vaccines would probably also be acceptable. It’s not a matter of reach through constitutional authority with COVID-19, it’s a matter of political will. “

In the spring, federal labor officials told employers they would not “seek to comply” with recommendations from public health officials regarding vaccinations, with documents noting that the Canada Labor Code is silent on requirements. vaccines.

“This position would only change if these vaccines were made mandatory by law,” the documents say. The documents also suggest that workers’ challenges against such a policy would be ineffective due to the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

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