During the past two weeks in western Canada two rulings suggest that unelected provincial health officers are not above the law. Vital decisions were issued against Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Deena Hinshaw by judges in British Columbia and Alberta.
A B.C. Judge ruled this week Dr. Bonnie Henry needs to face a class-action constitutional challenge to multiple of her health orders issued under COVID-19, and the case will not be thrown out of court as requested by Henry’s lawyers.
The Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy (CSASPP) presented the petition, which says to contain at least 41 healthcare professionals. CSASPP contends that Henry’s mandatory vaccination orders for healthcare professionals are unlawful because they lack reasonable alternatives to vaccination, such as rapid testing and religious or medical exemptions.
This is just one of many of the challenges to Henry’s pandemic response regime. The vaccine mandates gave affected government workers across multiple sectors, it is also impacting private and small businesses that want to bid on provincial government contracts. The order was put in place from October to November which made a requirement for employment to be so called “fully vaccinated” wit two shots of a COVID vaccine.
Henry’s lawyers claimed that CSASPP was a “purpose-built anti-COVID-19 measures entity” with no skin in the game because of no prior involvement in the issues of its petition. It was ruled by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Simon Coval that Henry’s health orders did directly affect “a defined and identifiable group” and that the orders did therefore appear to affect their Charter rights.
Justice Coval also determined that the petition addresses “important and complex” healthcare issues, and that the society deserved legal standing — something Henry’s counsel had previously argued against.
“(CSASPP) alleges that its alternative proposals reflect a superior approach, taken in other Provinces and elsewhere around the world, much less intrusive on healthcare workers’ Charter rights. In my view, this raises substantial questions that meet the threshold of ‘clearly not frivolous.’”
The B.C. decision follows a pattern set in Alberta last week, when a judge told provincial health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw that she couldn’t claim “cabinet confidentiality” to avoid answering questions in court about her meetings with government officials.