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Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench one judge away from being fully vaccinated

Friday, September 10, 2021 @ 3:31 PM | By Terry Davidson


All of Manitoba’s Queen’s Bench judges have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — save for one who will get their final shot in the “immediate future,” says the court’s chief justice.

On Sept. 10, Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal confirmed that 41 of his 42 judges — there are currently 35 full-time judges and seven supernumeraries — have received their two shots of vaccine — something he recently made a requirement for them to come to court.

 Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal

Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal

On Aug. 25, the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench became what was believed to be the first court in Canada to apply a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for its judges and judicial assistants.

Effective that date, only those fully vaccinated are allowed to access courtrooms and chambers — unless, of course, there is a valid medical reason.  

The move came as an increasing number of public- and private-sector employers adopt vaccine mandates to deal with a fourth wave of COVID-19, the delta variant and people who are still not vaccinated.

Chief Justice Joyal had confirmed in late August that any unvaccinated judge barred from the courtroom and chambers would remain on full pay.

The court started its fall term on Sept. 6.

When it was recently asked what unvaccinated judges would be doing during their time away from court, a spokesperson said there “is work that can be done remotely,” pointing to the fact many judges and staff were working this way during provincial lockdowns.  

But Chief Justice Joyal, in a Sept. 10 e-mail to The Lawyer’s Daily, declined to specify as to the nature of this work.

“Judicial assignments and the nature of a judge’s work have and always will be protected by and be within the purview of judicial administrative independence,” he said. “In other words, a judge’s assignments outside of the courtroom are otherwise not made public. That said, in the circumstances of your inquiry, I can advise that there is only one judge who is not vaccinated. Respecting that judge’s judicial assignments, for the reasons I have already indicated, I will be providing no further information. It is expected that that judge will be fully vaccinated in the immediate future.”

He also said all judicial assistants have been fully vaccinated.

In a recent story by Cristin Schmitz, Ottawa bureau chief of The Lawyer’s Daily, Chief Justice Joyal said the vaccine policy had been put in place to both protect the health of judges, court staff and the public and to ensure the court’s continued operation.  

At the time, he said the policy involved an honour system, where it would be assumed that each judge is fully vaccinated unless he or she says they are not. He also said that he had received no pushback from his judges.

The Lawyer’s Daily is asking all chief justices and chief judges in Canada what policies and practices, if any, their courts have with respect to mandatory vaccinations for judges and staff.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for The Lawyer’s Daily, please contact Terry Davidson at t.davidson@lexisnexis.ca or call 905-415-5899.