Court denies injunction to unvaccinated Quebec caregivers seeking access to residents
A Quebec court has rebuffed unvaccinated caregivers who were hoping to obtain an injunction allowing them to enter nursing homes without showing proof of vaccination.
In a ruling issued Tuesday, Superior Court Justice Christian J. Brossard wrote that without an in-depth examination of the case, he couldn't conclude the restriction imposed on unvaccinated caregivers causes more public harm than good.
A Montreal lawyer was representing about 80 caregivers and residents who want Quebec to switch from requiring proof of vaccination from caregivers to accepting a negative test result within 72 hours of when they want to enter a facility.
Natalia Manole had argued in court last week that vulnerable residents are suffering without access to caregivers and that if unvaccinated health-care workers are able to work in the same facilities provided they test negative, people looking after loved ones should be afforded the same right.
In his ruling, Brossard said he must abide by the presumption that the government is acting in the public interest with its COVID-19 health measures, despite serious concerns raised by the plaintiffs.
The judge wrote it wasn't for the court to interfere in the government's "analysis, assessment and decision-making process" and it's the government's responsibility to find a fair balance between the public interest and those whose physical health, well-being and mental health depend on caregivers.
"At this preliminary and summary stage of the proceedings, the court is unable to conclude that the approach taken by the government is unrelated to the public good … whether for the population in general or for the beneficiaries in particular, would be better served by the suspension of the provision in play and the suspension of the requirement of proof of vaccination for caregivers," he wrote.
The judge said that "only an exhaustive substantive debate, based on complete evidence, will decide this."
Manole said in an email she would study the judgment to see whether she would appeal.
Brossard said he hopes the epidemiological situation in the province improves, which he said would allow authorities to once again give all caregivers access to health-care establishments.
He also suggested "with goodwill," that caregivers who are unvaccinated strictly due to personal choice should "calmly, but diligently" re-evaluate their decision and its effect on the people they're looking after.
Brossard said a full hearing on the merits should happen quickly.
- This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 8, 2022