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AHS threatened with constitutional challenge over COVID-19 vaccine mandate


A group of Alberta firefighters is threatening to file a constitutional challenge against Alberta Health Services over its requirement that all employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October.

AHS announced the policy at the end of October and employees have until Oct. 16 to provide their vaccination status.

READ MORE: Alberta Health Services to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for physicians, staff, contract employees

“We have a number of firefighters that are facing loss of employment, unpaid leaves of absence and likely termination,” said Tim Moen, a spokesperson for Fight for the Frontline, the group of first responders launching the challenge. Moen is double vaccinated and is himself a firefighter-paramedic who works in the Edmonton region.

The group has obtained lawyer Derek From from WKA Lawyers in Airdrie, Alta., who has sent a letter directly to AHS CEO Dr. Verna Yiu demanding the policy be reviewed, calling it a disproportionate response to the COVID-19 virus.

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“Even in times of stress, Charter rights and human rights must be appropriately balanced and accommodated with the government’s policy objectives,” the letter reads.

“There is no legal authority supporting AHS’ infringement of the legal rights of our clients, even during a pandemic.”

Read more:
How should employers mandate COVID-19 vaccines? Persuade instead of punish, experts say

The group is asking AHS to allow regular rapid testing of employees in lieu of vaccination. The letter also questions the safety of the vaccines, demands the recognition of natural immunity and exemptions under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

“If they don’t reconsider it and if there is repercussions, employment repercussions for our guys where they lose income, we’ll be fighting a constitutional challenge,” Moen said.

 

Moen couldn’t provide an exact number of firefighters who have not been vaccinated, but does admit a majority have gotten their shots.

AHS doesn’t directly employ firefighters, but some are employed by contracted service providers. In a statement, AHS says it is reaching out to the group to understand who they represent and further discuss the policy with them.

“The mandatory immunization policy is an important tool to ensure the safety of our employees, and our patients,” reads the statement.

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“The AHS immunization policy permits AHS employees to apply for accommodation in accordance with the Alberta Human Rights Act.”




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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