Nova Scotia Journal

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Nova Scotia judges are free from the workplace vaccine policy

the workplace vaccine policy

Key Takeaways:

  • Nova Scotia judges will not be required to follow the same vaccination rules as others paid for by the province’s taxpayers.
  • The province’s chief medical officer of health, stated that judges should be vaccinated.

While most unvaccinated provincial government employees face losing their jobs, or at the very least their pay, at the end of the month, this is not the case for judges.

The vaccination policy, announced last month, requires all direct employees of the provincial government, including all Justice Department staff, to be vaccinated by Nov. 30 unless they have a valid exemption. The courts, however, are independent, according to Jennifer Stairs, communications director for the Nova Scotia judiciary.

“Judges are neither civil servants nor government employees.” As a result, judges are not bound by the same policies and procedures for federal or provincial employees.

Stairs refused to say whether the judiciary has a policy requiring judges to be vaccinated. This is because the court may hear challenges to the vaccine mandate, and having a stated policy may lead people to believe that judges are biased. “The public needs to know that these issues will be heard fairly,” Stairs said. “With that in mind, the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court have no plans to disclose such information.”

The Chronicle Herald wondered if judges were required to be vaccinated and if any were on leave. “While some members of our bench may not be sitting due to medical leave at the moment,” said Chief Judge Pamela Williams in a written statement, “any judge returning to sit in the provincial court will be fully vaccinated.”

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the provincial court has worked tirelessly alongside the government to develop workable solutions to keep our courts open while limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our communities.”

At Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Premier Tim Houston and Dr. Robert Strang.

“I strongly believe that judges should be vaccinated, and we’re looking into it,” Houston said. “We’ll make sure judges are vaccinated if we can extend the policy to them, which I hope we can.”

Strang also stated that Nova Scotia public health would continue to collaborate with the Justice Department to understand better any issues or challenges that the judiciary may face.

“You could argue that their job situation is similar to that of the judges in terms of public exposure, and thus their job does not require vaccination,” he said.

He also criticized the secrecy surrounding the rules for judges, arguing that the Nova Scotia Judicial Council or the province’s chief justice, Michael Wood, should at the very least state that a vaccine policy is in place. “If there is no policy, it’s essential to explain why because almost every other workplace has some kind of policy,” MacKay said.

Source: Saltwire News

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