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N.B. judge rejects ‘rambling’ anti-vax arguments from 4 public servants

February 14, 2022
The Canadian Press

FREDERICTON — A New Brunswick judge has rejected a bid by four public servants to overturn the province’s decision to place them on unpaid leave for failing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a scathing decision that takes aim at basic anti-vaccination arguments, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice E. Thomas Christie ruled Thursday the court has no jurisdiction over the matter.

Christie said employment-related disputes within a unionized workplace like the provincial government must be handled through the union’s grievance and adjudication process.

“In circumstances like this, where adjudication provisions exist, the court has no role,” Christie said, adding that adjudicators can provide remedies in cases like this, including decisions on potential charter violations.


Last fall, the province made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all government employees, saying those who failed to comply with the directive would be placed on indefinite unpaid leave.

In November 2021, two teachers and two health-care workers sued the province, claiming their constitutional rights had been violated.

In his decision, Christie called the workers’ legal arguments “rambling” and rejected the notion that they were being forced to do something against their will, as if they were being treated as slaves.

“The applicants claim that their bodily integrity is at stake, comparing themselves to victims of some of the most brutal crimes …. I join in the developing judicial view that, in the circumstances of a global pandemic, policies of the type presently at issue force no one to do anything.”

He cited two similar cases in Canada last year. In one, the judge stated that those involved were being forced to choose between getting vaccinated and keeping their jobs or remaining unvaccinated and losing their income. In the other, the judge said that what was at stake “was not forcible vaccination but rather the consequences of one’s choice to remain unvaccinated.”

In the New Brunswick case, Christie sided with the province, which had filed an application to have the lawsuit dismissed.

The New Brunswick Nurses Union and New Brunswick Teachers Federation acted as interveners in the case, saying they also wanted the case dismissed. The judge noted that the right to file a grievance rests with the union and not individual union members.

By Michael MacDonald in Halifax

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