Lack of vaccine requirements for workers in Alberta a ‘loophole’, health law expert says

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EDMONTON –

The fact that Alberta’s restriction exemption program could mean unvaccinated workers will serve customers who have been asked to prove their full COVID-19 vaccination is either a loophole or an oversight, said a professor from the University of Alberta.

“It just has to be part of the mess surrounding the deployment. I mean, that’s the generous interpretation,” Timothy Caulfield told CTV News Edmonton. Caulfield is Director of the Institute of Health Law at the University of Alberta and of the Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy.

“The less generous interpretation is that someone actually thought about it and came to that conclusion anyway – because it doesn’t make sense to me.”

The restriction exemption program allows businesses to bypass most public health measures if they require a recent negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination from customers.

The exemption program itself has several exemptions: children under 12 who are not eligible for the vaccine, essential businesses, and employees of businesses participating in the program, such as workers in restaurants or cinemas.

“I just don’t think it’s fair that (Albertans) come to these facilities and then be served by someone who isn’t vaccinated,” Caulfield said.

“It’s a huge loophole in the system.”

When Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health was asked about the apparent problem, Dr Deena Hinshaw said the program was modeled on that of other provinces.

“We noted that no other province has extended these mandates to employees of affected companies. So the program in Alberta is consistent with other provincial mandates,” Hinshaw told CTV News Edmonton Thursday.

“Employers can choose to require employees to be vaccinated; it is certainly something they have the right to do.”

Caulfield said including employees would be the best way to increase vaccination.

US President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirements plan would require COVID-19 firing for federal workers, private employers with more than 100 employees, educators and most healthcare workers.

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