TORONTO — An Ontario judge has lifted a temporary injunction that paused enforcement of a Toronto hospital network's COVID-19 vaccination policy, saying he does not have the jurisdiction to grant the relief sought by a group of unvaccinated workers.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Sean Dunphy issued the interim injunction last week after several unvaccinated employees filed an emergency application as part of a legal challenge against the University Health Network's immunization mandate.
The hospital network had said staff who didn't receive both COVID-19 shots by Oct. 22 would lose their jobs. The workers allege the policy is illegal and discriminatory.
In a written decision released today, Dunphy says that when it comes to unionized UHN staff, the "essential character" of the dispute lies squarely within the realm of the labour relations system.
As a result, it should be resolved through arbitration, grievances and other labour relations processes, he says, noting that all unions whose members are affected have taken such steps to challenge the vaccine policy.
As for non-union UHN staff, Dunphy says private-sector employers are allowed to fire employees at will, and the only remedy available for termination without cause is compensation -- not reinstatement.
Dunphy stresses, however, that his decision regarding the temporary injunction "does not address the question of the merits or legality of the vaccine policy adopted by UHN."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29. 2021.
The Canadian Press