Dr. Bonnie Henry justified in extending vaccine mandate for health-care workers, judge says

Click to play video: 'Health-care workers lose COVID-19 vaccination court case'
Health-care workers lose COVID-19 vaccination court case
B.C. health-care workers who sued the government over the extension in the fall of 2023 of COVID-19 vaccination mandates have lost their case, with one exception. Aaron McArthur reports. – May 14, 2024

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was justified in extending a vaccine mandate for health-care workers last fall.

Fifteen health-care workers appealed to have the public health order dismissed on constitutional and other grounds.

Among other things, they claimed COVID-19 was no longer a significant risk to public health and there was no medical evidence that unvaccinated health-care workers posed a greater risk to vulnerable patients.

Justice Simon Coval ruled that while the orders did violate Charter Guarantees of Conscience and Religion, the infringement was reasonable to protect public health.

“I agree that our rights were violated in that we should have had a choice,” former registered nurse Andrea Henders told Global News.

“Where there is risk, there must be choice, and as nurses that’s kind of hammered into us in schooling and working as nurses on the job.”

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Henders last worked in a hospital in 2021.

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BC among last to require COVID-19 vaccine for health care workers

Justice Coval did strike down one aspect of the order, saying it can no longer apply to workers in administrative roles or in cases where people work remotely.

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According to the court documents, 1,800 workers were terminated for not adhering to the mandate.

Conservative leader John Rustad said losing those people has made the health-care crisis worse.

“We would repeal the mandate and hire those workers back,” he said.

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Four COVID-19 court cases dismissed by B.C. Supreme Court

B.C.’s Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, told Global News there were many reasons the measures were taken.

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“Members of the media covered the COVID-19 pandemic, they know how vulnerable people were in long-term care, they know how vulnerable people were in acute care, and so that’s the reason the measures were taken, and that view was supported in the courts,” Dix said.

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