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Judges on New Brunswick Appeal Court, Queen’s Bench all vaccinated

Monday, September 20, 2021 @ 2:45 PM | By Terry Davidson


All judges on both New Brunswick’s Appeal Court and Queen’s Bench have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — no mandatory policies needed.

Officials with the courts recently confirmed that all eight on the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick and the 33 on the Court of Queen’s Bench have received their full round of shots.

In neither case did the chief justices of their respective courts feel a mandatory vaccine policy was necessary.

Appeal Court legal officer Marie-Claude Desrosiers said in an e-mail that judicial assistants and court staff are also fully vaccinated.

“The Honourable J.C. Marc Richard, chief justice of New Brunswick, confirms that all justices of the Court of Appeal are fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Desrosiers. “The chief justice is informed that all members of the court’s staff are also fully vaccinated. In these circumstances, it has not been necessary for him to consider the adoption of a vaccination policy for Court of Appeal justices and employees.”

Judges and staff “were immunized on a voluntary basis as vaccines became available in our province,” Desrosiers went on to say.

Like Desrosiers, Queen’s Bench legal officer Rachelle Standing said “there was no mandatory vaccination policy for the Court of Queen’s Bench judges.”

It was not confirmed by press time the vaccination status of Queen’s Bench judicial assistants or court staff.

The absence of any kind of vaccine mandate in these two cases stands in contrast to at least one other Canadian court — that of Manitoba’s Queen’s Bench, where, starting Aug. 25, vaccination was required for judges to enter courtrooms and chambers.

As of Sept. 10, all but one of the 42 judges sitting on that court had been vaccinated, Chief Justice Glenn Joyal said at the time. The one unvaccinated judge, he said, would receive their final shot in the “immediate future.”

On Sept. 16, a Manitoba courts spokesperson said The Lawyer’s Daily would be notified as to when all the Queen’s Bench judges have been vaccinated. (All judicial assistants have been fully vaccinated.)

When Chief Justice Joyal implemented the policy, he said any unvaccinated judge barred from court and chambers would continue to receive full pay.

As for Manitoba’s Appeal Court, its chief justice is declining to say if there is any vaccination policy in place for judges. Doing so, he said, would bring into question the court’s impartiality.

In a Sept. 16 e-mail, Chief Justice Richard Chartier said pandemic-related health orders issued by the province’s chief public health officer are “fraught with controversy” and that issues around constitutionality are currently before the courts.  

“As you know, courts are called upon to provide an impartial forum to resolve these important issues,” stated Chief Justice Chartier. “In my view, the answers to your questions may be interpreted in a way that will bring into question our court’s impartiality.”

Saskatchewan’s provincial court, Queen’s Bench and Court of Appeal have “no formal protocols with respect to the vaccination of judges.”

Spokesperson Dawn Blaus said the courts are “mindful of their responsibility to hear and adjudicate matters in a way that protects the public.” She also said court staff will need to be vaccinated as of the start of October to avoid having to present test results.

“Current guidelines require anyone seeking entry to a courthouse in Saskatchewan to comply with a COVID-19 screening, wear a mask, and observe physical distancing requirements,” said Blaus. “Enhanced cleaning protocols continue and physical shields remain in place in courtrooms. In addition, all employees of the government of Saskatchewan, including court staff, will be required to provide proof of vaccination or consistent negative test results, effective October 1, 2021.”

Further details were not immediately available. 

As of Sept. 15, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Supreme Court was not requiring its judges or staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but urging them to get their shots.

All three levels of British Columbia’s courts are not requiring judges to be vaccinated, nor are they disclosing their vaccination status. However, the courts there have said this could change depending on how the situation evolves in that province.

The Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court, on the other hand, have both revealed that all their judges have been vaccinated.

As of Sept. 13, Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, the nation’s largest superior trial court, was saying the public can expect that judges hearing cases in person “will be fully vaccinated.” Around that time, the province’s Court of Justice and Court of Appeal were still working out their vaccine policies.

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