Focus On

Alberta courts impose vaccine mandate on judges, staff

Friday, October 01, 2021 @ 12:38 PM | By Ian Burns


Alberta’s courts have put in place a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for judges and court staff, and those who have not received the jab will soon be denied workplace access unless they can provide a valid exemption.

On Sept. 21, the Alberta Court of Appeal, Court of Queen’s Bench and provincial court issued a mandatory vaccination policy for their secure workplaces. Effective Oct. 8, counsel, service providers and visitors wishing to access the secure areas of Alberta courthouses to which public access is restricted will be questioned about their vaccination status. Those who have not been vaccinated or who have not received a negative test completed no more than 48 hours prior will be denied entry.

And Scott Sehested, communications officer with the Court of Appeal, wrote in a Sept. 28 e-mail to The Lawyer’s Daily that “as of Nov. 1 judges and certain staff who are not fully vaccinated will no longer be permitted to access the courts’ workplaces unless exempted by written medical exemption or another reason accepted in law.”

“The courts are also working towards additional steps to ensure that essential court services are provided to Albertans in as safe a manner as reasonably possible,” Sehested wrote.

Sehested declined to comment on The Lawyer’s Daily’s request for further clarification to their plan, including how many judges in the province are currently vaccinated, what exceptions to the policy would be allowed and what consequences, if any, will be in place for judges who are not vaccinated.

The Lawyer’s Daily has been reaching out to courts across the country about their COVID-19 vaccination policies for judges and staff. The Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court have said all their judges are fully vaccinated, while both 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 if they hear any legal challenges to vaccine mandates.

The effect of the fourth wave of COVID-19 has been particularly acute in Alberta, with the province reporting 1,706 new cases Sept. 30.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for The Lawyer’s Daily please contact Ian Burns at Ian.Burns@lexisnexis.ca or call 905-415-5906.