Toronto Star

Can workers be forced to take the vaccine?

Legal experts are divided, citing a conflict between labour law and human rights law


You’re sitting in a hospital waiting room, and a nurse walks in to see you. You wonder to yourself if they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The answer? Not necessaril­y. Nor, for that matter, is there any guarantee the cashier at the grocery store, your bus driver, or your kid’s schoolteac­her has had the shot.

Even once vaccines have been widely distribute­d, legal experts disagree on whether employers can make it mandatory for employees to get the shot.

At its heart, those experts say, is a conflict between the Occupation­al Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and human rights legislatio­n, such as the Ontario Human Rights Code or federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“As things stand, there is no legislativ­e or health order which would permit employers to mandate vaccine use. … The OHSA only provides a certain amount of cover,” said Trevor Lawson, a partner in the labour and employment practice at McCarthy Tetrault.

Don’t expect any new mandatory COVID-19 vaccine legislatio­n or health order from the province. Asked about it last week for employees in health care and other front-line workers, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Premier Doug Ford has been clear.

“The premier has been very clear that he wants this to be a voluntary

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada