- On Wednesday, four Canadian Armed Forces members who face disciplinary action for refusing to get COVID-19 vaccines presented their case to the Federal Court.
4 members of the Canadian Armed Forces who face disciplinary action for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 presented their case to the Federal Court on Wednesday.
General Wayne Eyre, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has ordered that all members of the Armed Forces be vaccinated by the end of November; those who do not will face disciplinary action, including the possibility of dismissal from the military since the deadline has been pushed back to December 18.
The order is in line with a requirement for all federal employees. Eyre also stated that his order is in place to protect the military in the event of a pandemic.
The four servicemembers were challenging the order claim in affidavits that they are opposed to getting the vaccine for various reasons, including long-term safety concerns and religious objections.
Lt.-Col. Illo Antonio Neri says, “I do not have confidence in the government’s declaration that they are safe and effective.” “More specifically, I don’t believe the trials accurately discovered and assessed all potential vaccine long-term effects.”
Although Eyre’s order allows for medical, religious, and human rights exemptions, Edmonton lawyer Catherine Christensen, who represented the four military members in court on Wednesday, told The Canadian Press that all of their requests were denied.
The four service members claim that their constitutional rights are being infringed upon and that the threat of dismissal is excessive.
“I have seen members convicted of serious offenses and not removed from service during my time in the CAF,” Warrant Officer Morgan Christopher Warren writes in his affidavit.
Hundreds of pages of documents have been submitted by government lawyers to back up their claims that vaccines are safe and effective. They’ve also suggested that the four service members file a grievance with the military if they’re unhappy.
But, according to Christensen, that would be inappropriate because the order came from the military’s top commander. If the Federal Court grants her temporary injunction request, she intends to ask the court to hear the case in its entirety.
According to Christensen, following several hours of arguments on Wednesday, Federal Court Judge Janet Fuhrer reserved her decision.
The military has a vaccination rate of 98 percent.
The four Armed Forces members aren’t the first to question the government’s vaccine requirements. The Federal Court refused to grant an injunction for dozens of federal bureaucrats who are also facing dismissal for refusing to get the shot earlier this month.
Approximately 98 percent of service members have reported being vaccinated, according to a Department of National Defence spokesperson, Daniel Le Bouthillier, and the majority of those who haven’t are reservists or people on leave.
Another 800 people have applied for medical, religious, or human rights exemptions. However, Le Bouthillier could not say how many have been granted because officials are still urging people to get vaccinated before the deadline on December 18.
Due to “necessary administrative delays in the process,” Le Bouthillier said the military will not dismiss any members “until remedial measures have been exhausted,” and the first of those forced dismissals is not expected until January.
“Members can change their minds and get vaccinated at any point during the process,” he continued, “at which point the member becomes compliant with the CDS directive, and the conclusion of remedial measures must be considered.”
Source: CBC News
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