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Canadian Judicial Council says it won’t issue guidance on mandatory vaccinations for judges, staff

Tuesday, August 31, 2021 @ 3:11 PM | By Cristin Schmitz


The Canadian Judicial Council says it has no plans to provide national advice or to give guidance on the question of whether courts should mandate COVID-19 vaccination for judges or staff.

In response to queries from The Lawyer’s Daily a week ago, and as the federal government, some provinces and a fast-growing number of businesses announce COVID-19 vaccine mandates for many of their workers, the council of 41 chief- and associate chief justices leading the superior trial and appellate courts across Canada “are actively discussing the issue, as recently as last week,” CJC director of communications and registry services, Johanna Laporte, said in an e-mail. 

“The ongoing evolution of the pandemic; the differing public health and safety measures and obligations; and the respective realities that each court is facing with regard to responding to the pandemic, make it unfeasible for the council to determine a uniform/one-size-fits-all approach for all courts across the country,” Laporte said.

“Each respective court, under the leadership of their chief justice, must independently determine the best approach to follow given their circumstances, in order to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all persons who attend the court building, as well as access to justice and the proper functioning of their court.”

Laporte added that recently announced COVID-19 policies and regulations relating to federal workers and those working for some provincial and territorial governments — which include vaccine mandates — “would naturally apply to court staff who are public servants.”

The CJC’s statement that it will not issue national advisory guidance comes a week after the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench became the first known court in Canada Aug. 25 to mandate that its 44 judges, as well as their judicial assistants — along with anyone else wishing to enter court chambers — be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Judges who decline to get vaccinated against COVID-19, without a medical exemption, will not be assigned to the court’s rota “until further notice,” Chief Justice Glenn Joyal told The Lawyer’s Daily.

The Lawyer’s Daily is asking all courts and chief judges across Canada to disclose what their COVID-19 vaccination policies are for judges and court staff and welcomes any information it receives in that regard.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for The Lawyer’s Daily please contact Cristin Schmitz at Cristin.Schmitz@lexisnexis.ca or at 613-820-2794.