A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at a pop-up vaccine clinic for EMS workers Center in Salt Lake City on January 5, 2021. Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker says a Vancouver couple accused of flying to a remote Yukon community to get the COVID-19 vaccine are getting a notice to appear in court. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Bowmer)

A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at a pop-up vaccine clinic for EMS workers Center in Salt Lake City on January 5, 2021. Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker says a Vancouver couple accused of flying to a remote Yukon community to get the COVID-19 vaccine are getting a notice to appear in court. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Bowmer)

Surrey Board of Trade town hall discusses businesses’ rights with the COVID vaccine

Questions included ‘Can an employer require an employee to get vaccinated?’

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is well underway – with some delays – some businesses and employers might be wondering what they can do when it comes to encouraging employees to get the vaccine.

The Surrey Board of Trade held a digital town hall on vaccinations and businesses on Thursday (Jan. 28). It included two speakers: Tomas Reyes, the executive direction of the Surrey-North Delta Division of Family Practice, and Jordan Thompson, an associate with Fasken, a business law firm.

The town hall was to help employers and employees understand their rights when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, with questions such as “Can an employer require an employee to get vaccinated?” or “Can businesses prevent non-vaccinated guests from entering their premises?”

Anita Huberman, the CEO of the SBOT, said Surrey, from an industry perspective, “is faring very well,” but employers must understand the vaccine roll out and its implications to businesses.

Thompson said this is “uncharted territory” in the legal sector, and he expects it to change over the next several months as vaccines become available to the general public.

But as to whether an employer can require a vaccination, Thompson said, “At this point in time, it’s not really a practical plan.

He added employers cannot expect medical treatments from their employees, but Thompson said “there are, of course, exceptions to this general rule,” such as if the government ruled the COVID-19 vaccine was mandatory.

Thompson said he “could see the argument” for mandatory vaccines in long-term care, but he said it would really come down to a case-by-case basis and depend on the specific workplace in question.

When it comes to whether or not an employer can require proof of vaccination, Thompson said it’s “highly related to whether an employer can mandate vaccinations.”

As to whether a business can prevent non-vaccinated guests from entering their business, Thompson said that would involve a “ton of practical hurdles.” He added there are “very reasonable” alternatives, such as screening questions and temperature checks, which some businesses are already doing.

Refusing business on the grounds of not being vaccinated, would involve some “significant” human rights issues.

“It’s really a moving target and it’s really case-by-case specific for most employers.”

However, Thompson said businesses could look at incentive programs, such as working a half-day or taking the day off with pay, to encourage employees to get their vaccination.

Meantime, Reyes said vaccinations are “still an individual choice,” but “strongly recommended.”

Huberman asked what can be done on the education side if an employer is dealing with an employee who chooses not to take the vaccine.

Reyes said healthcare professionals need to listen and understand where the concern is coming from, which “many of those concerns may be founded on rumours people heard about, or stories formed based on those rumours.”

While it’s a personal choice whether or not to take the vaccine, Reyes said “the vaccine is not only to help you, but to help the people around the individual.”

READ ALSO: Canada scrambling for smaller syringes ahead of expected Pfizer vaccine label change, Jan. 27, 2021


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hospital outbreaks included in Fraser Health update Feb. 28, 2021. (Black Press file)
Fraser Health declared COVID-19 outbreaks at Chilliwack General and Surrey Memorial

The medicine units are temporarily closed but ERs remain open, according to Fraser Health update

High winds Friday made perfect conditions for kite-surfers near the White Rock Pier. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: Kite-surfers take flight near White Rock Pier

Aerial performance put on near iconic waterfront attraction

White Rock City Hall (Peace Arch News photo)
City of White Rock seeking input on draft financial plan

Plan includes tax rate increase of 4.28 per cent

B.C. researchers are asking for the public’s help in monitoring the bat population. (Cathy Koot photo)
Semiahmoo Peninsula residents asked to monitor bat activity

Researchers keeping eye on spread of white-nose syndrome

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Lorne Ginther

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

Most Read