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e-3873 (Civil and human rights)

Initiated by Caroline Barrington from Swift Current, Saskatchewan

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • The federal government implemented a policy wherein federal public servants of the core public administration were forced to choose between their bodily autonomy and their careers, with Crown corporations instituting similar policies shortly thereafter;
  • This resulted in public servants being coerced to choose between providing private medical information to their employer and accept two doses of an emergency use authorized COVID-19 injection, or losing their pay, benefits, earned leave credits, etc.;
  • This policy violates public servants’ right to bodily autonomy, medical choice, medical privacy, informed consent and reasonable occupational health and safety measures; and
  • This policy unnecessarily infringes on the rights and freedoms of Canadians, as reasonable accommodations such as providing an alternative workplace setting (working remotely from home or otherwise) or providing rapid testing for all employees have not been offered as an alternative.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Reinstate the federal public servants who have been removed from their positions without sufficient justification, many of whom are experts in their respective fields;
2. Ensure that freedom to participate in work within the Government of Canada is not contingent on being vaccinated; and
3. Require the federal government to protect the fundamental rights of Canadian federal government employees and where necessary apply proportional and appropriate responses to emergencies that are legal, ethical, and respectful of inalienable human rights.

Response by the President of the Treasury Board

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Greg Fergus

The Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination for the Core Public Administration Including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was implemented in the fall of 2021 when vaccination provided a high degree of protection against infection and transmission of COVID-19 viruses. This approach served as an effective public health measure to protect public servants and the communities they worked in.  All employees have had access to Public Health Agency of Canada/Health Canada information about vaccines and how they work so they could understand how vaccination helps protect them and their workplaces against COVID-19.

The Policy is compliant with legislation, including the Privacy Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and collective agreements. On October 21, 2021, the Canadian Human Rights Commission published a guide on vaccination policies and human rights, which states that “Rights are not absolute. […] Requiring that an individual be vaccinated to work or travel is not a discriminatory practice under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Vaccination requirements are not a discriminatory practice because they are intended (and are necessary) to protect public health and safety.” The Policy provides for addressing requests for accommodation based on any prohibited ground of discrimination as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act, on a case-by-case basis.

Based on the evolving nature of the pandemic and the scientific data, the Government of Canada announced on June 14th, 2022 that it would suspend vaccination requirements for federal government employees, and effective June 20, 2022, employees of the core public administration would no longer be required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. Consequently, employees who had been placed on administrative leave without pay as per the Policy, could be reinstated as early as June 20, 2022.

The decision to suspend the Policy is based on the latest scientific evidence related to vaccine effectiveness against transmission and infection with evolving COVID-19 variants. Suspending the Policy allows the Government to easily reinstate it as needed, based on science and public health risk, in the future. 

Open for signature
March 3, 2022, at 12:05 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 2, 2022, at 12:05 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Jeremy Patzer (Cypress Hills—Grasslands)
June 6, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00521)
Government response tabled
August 17, 2022
Photo - Jeremy Patzer
Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Conservative Caucus