Judge rejects B.C. government’s bid to drop case against COVID-19 vaccine orders

Click to play video: 'Advocacy group gets green light to challenge COVID rules'
Advocacy group gets green light to challenge COVID rules
A B.C. judge has given an advocacy group the green light to challenge a number of Dr. Bonnie Henry's COVID-19 health orders in court. But as John Hua reports, that doesn't necessarily mean the government policy on vaccinations for health-care workers will be overturned. – May 6, 2022

A B.C. court judge has rejected the provincial government’s bid to have a case against its COVID-19 vaccine orders for health-care workers thrown out.

In a Wednesday decision, Justice Simon Coval dismissed the provincial health officer’s argument that the petitioners lack legal standing in the matter, finding instead they have a “public interest standing.”

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Study suggests new unvaccinated COVID-19 risk

The petition, which seeks to quash the double-immunization orders, is a “reasonable” way to bring forward important health-care issues that “transcend the interests of those directly involved,” he wrote.

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Last October, Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered staff in the bulk of health-care settings — including hospitals, long-term care homes and clinics — be fully-vaccinated to work on-site.

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The non-profit Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy (CSASPP) argues the mandate is unconstitutional, and fails to accommodate people with religious objections, vaccination risks, immunity from prior infection, and a recent, negative COVID-19 test result.

It requested a reconsideration of the orders in November, presenting a suite of safety alternatives and examples of jurisdictions with less restrictive approaches. The provincial health officer refused, however, claiming it sought exemptions on non-medical grounds.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Vaccine card no longer in place in B.C.'
COVID-19: Vaccine card no longer in place in B.C.

Henry’s lawyers argued the CSASPP’s petition does not present a serious issue to the court as it contains “no adjudicative facts.” The advocacy group, they claimed, is a “purpose-built anti-COVID-19 measures entity,” and it has no history of involvement in the issues identified in its petition.

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The CSASPP claims an estimated 41 of its 170 members work in a health-care setting.

In his decision, Coval found the group satisfied “genuine interest” and engagement tests in the matter, evidenced primarily through the work it put into its November reconsideration request. The less intrusive safety measures it presented in that request raise “substantial questions” that are “clearly not frivolous,” he wrote.

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