Public Health wrong to fire Sudbury nurse for refusing COVID vaccine: Arbitrator

Public Health Sudbury and Districts discriminated against a nurse it fired because she refused to get a COVID-19 vaccination, a provincial arbitrator has ruled.

In his ruling, arbitrator Robert Herman said it was wrong for Public Health – which has led the effort to get people in the Sudbury area vaccinated against the deadly virus – to terminate the nurse.

She had sought an exemption from getting vaccinated for religious reasons under the Ontario Human Rights Code. The employee is a devout Roman Catholic and a member of the Latin Mass, a particularly strict part of the church.

Its believers object to the use of fetal cell lines in the development of vaccines. Fetal cell lines are cells grown in a laboratory based on aborted fetal cells collected generations ago.

Members of the Latin Mass strongly object to abortion, which they regard as murder, and the use of fetal cell lines, which come from aborted fetal cells.

Herman said despite some inconsistencies in the nurse’s evidence and behaviour, the health unit should have granted her an exemption for religious reasons rather than firing her.

“There can be multiple reasons for objecting to getting vaccinated, but as long as one of the reasons is sincerely and legitimately based upon one’s creed, as subjectively interpreted and applied, an applicant would be entitled to an exception under the (human rights code) and the vaccine policy itself,” Herman ruled.

“Once the grievor learned about the fetal cell line connection with the vaccines, even if that connection is factually and objectively quite remote, if the grievor sincerely believes that her faith does not allow her to get vaccinated, that would be sufficient grounds for granting her request for an exemption.”

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