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No vaccine mandate for Nunavut judges

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 @ 4:25 PM | By Terry Davidson

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 29, 2021 @ 4:44 PM


Nunavut’s chief justice has “no plans to mandate vaccinations for judges” and is not asking that they disclose if they have had their full round of shots, says an official.  

However, Chief Justice Neil Sharkey “encourages all judges to become vaccinated,” said executive legal officer Mark Mossey in an e-mail to The Lawyer’s Daily.

“The [Nunavut Court of Justice] is not taking a position or developing a policy for COVID 19 vaccinations for judges or court staff at this time,” said Mossey, who suggested contacting the territorial Department of Justice for comment on any kind of vaccine mandate for court staff.

Nunavut’s Department of Justice does not have a mandatory vaccine policy in place for court staff, according to a spokesperson.

On Sept. 29, Nunavut’s government reported one new COVID-19 case in Coral Harbour, a community on the southeastern side of Southampton Island.

This brings the total number of active cases in the territory to two, according to a government news release.  

"On September 28, someone in Coral Harbour tested positive for COVID-19 after developing symptoms," said Nunavut chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson in the release. “She is doing well and is isolated. Contact tracing is ongoing. People who have been exposed are informed and must self-isolate for 14 days after their last contact with this person. I invite all eligible residents of Coral Harbour to get vaccinated; this is the best way to protect yourself from the virus.”

Noting the “current risk of exposure of people from different households,” the territorial government has tightened some health measures in Coral Harbour. For example, outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people, while indoor gatherings are limited to five — plus household members; indoor public spaces, such as fitness centres, places of worship, art galleries and libraries must be limited to 25 or 25 per cent — whichever is less; and restaurants must do takeout only and are allowed to have no more than 10 people waiting in line at any given time.

The Lawyer’s Daily has been asking the chief justices and chief judges of Canada’s courts what policies — if any — they have when it comes to having in place COVID-19 vaccination policies for judges and court staff.

Currently, it looks as if courts across the country are taking varying approaches — particularly when it comes to whether to disclose if they have such a policy in place or comment on the vaccine status of their judges.

For example, both the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court have said all their judges are fully vaccinated, while the Federal Court of Appeal and Manitoba’s Appeal Court have said that commenting on any kind of vaccine policy would bring into question judges’ ability to remain impartial when it comes to hearing future challenges to vaccine mandates.

Another example is New Brunswick’s Court of Appeal and Court of Queen’s Bench, both of which do not have a mandatory vaccination policy for judges but revealed that they have all had their shots. Contrasting this is Nova Scotia’s judiciary, which cited the risk to impartiality as the reason for not commenting on any COVID-19 vaccination policies.

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.