Canada Post vs. PSAC

Related Substack:

Judge: Mandates for unvaccinated working remotely - "unreasonable"!

Published May 14, 2024

OTTAWA — A labour arbitrator has struck down part of Canada Post’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for employees, ruling it was unreasonable to suspend staff without pay who worked remotely simply because they did not confirm they were vaccinated.

Her ruling, issued last week, could provide some indication of the potential outcomes to more sweeping grievances filed in 2021 by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) against the government’s mandatory vaccination policy for most of those members who worked remotely. The postal employee union is part of PSAC, the country’s largest public service union. 

Those grievances are still in front of arbitrators. In each ongoing case, PSAC is requesting the government be forced to compensate unvaccinated members suspended without pay due to what it argues was an “unreasonable” application of the government’s vaccine mandate for public servants. 


1.        The Union has filed this policy grievance regarding the Canada Post’s Mandatory Vaccination Practice (“Practice”). The grievance raises the following narrow issue: Was it unreasonable for Canada Post to apply the Practice to employees who worked remotely? …


130.      The grievance is allowed in part.

131.      The Practice is unreasonable to the extent that it applied to UPCE employees who worked exclusively remotely. While the Practice was in place, an employee worked exclusively remotely if: (a) they completed the full ambit of their assigned duties remotely; and (b) there was no reasonable prospect they would be required to attend work in person for operational reasons or to complete the full ambit of their assigned duties.

132.      Applying the Practice to exclusively remote workers did not advance its main purpose, which was to limit the risk of COVID transmission in the workplace. There was no meaningful connection between the Practice’s objective and the measures imposed on exclusively remote workers. It is not clear that the Employer’s workplace health and safety interests extend to requiring vaccination because this could increase the likelihood that exclusively remote workers (who have no reasonable prospect of in-person work) would be available to do their jobs. To the extent that any such interest exists, however, it is significantly outweighed by the employees’ interests in their privacy and in ongoing paid employment. This aspect of the grievance is allowed.  

133.      The grievance also claimed that the Employer acted unreasonably when it placed unvaccinated employees who could have done their jobs remotely on unpaid leaves of absence. This aspect of the grievance is dismissed. Management rights include the ability to direct where employees perform their work and whether they do so in the workplace or remotely. 

At the same time:

Justice of the BC Supreme Court offered some BC healthcare workers a partial win last week when he ruled that Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is to reconsider her previous denials of requests for vaccine exemptions that were submitted to her by BC healthcare workers who work remotely and by healthcare workers who have no contact with patients, residents, clients, or frontline healthcare workers.  The Justice Centre provided lawyers to BC healthcare workers to challenge unjust refusals by Dr. Henry to grant exemptions to vaccine mandates for workers who had no contact with patients. This court ruling is a setback for Dr. Henry. -