**Note: I am an educator in New Brunswick, Canada and am facing immanent layoff without any access to financial support. I sent the following letter on October 18th, 2021. Once again, not a single question has been addressed.**
Hon. Blaine Higgs, Premier of New Brunswick
Dr. Jennifer Russell, Chief Medical Officer of Health
Hon. Dominic Cardy, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development
Mr. George Daley, Deputy Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development
RE: Mandatory Employee Vaccination Policy
The Government of New Brunswick’s (GNB) mandatory vaccination mandate has caused me significant emotional distress and anxiety since it was announced, especially the latest announcement on October 5th, 2021, which forces me to choose between an experimental injection or be put on indefinite unpaid leave. The policy has put me in the excruciating position of having to choose between either (A) keeping the job that I love, or (B) living in integrity with my core values.
Given how important the mandate is to my physical, psychological, and financial health, and its ability to significantly impact my family’s future, I asked if Anglophone East School District (AESD) could please answer my questions as soon as possible so that I could make a fully informed decision on the best path forward for myself and my family.
I have yet to hear any response. Not a single question answered.
My employer claims to be enforcing a policy from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD). The New Brunswick Teachers Federation (NBTF) has asked EECD on multiple occasions for said policy and has not received any policy documentation, nor confirmation of any approval or endorsement from Public Health. At this point I am deeply concerned that no one can provide me with this information on the mandatory vaccine or the policy that enforces it.
I am also troubled about the medical treatment I am being coerced to comply with – an experimental injection that has caused many individuals serious injuries, including death. My employer will not take any liability if an injury occurs from the mandatory vaccination. This is not reassuring.
On November 19th, GNB will be placing all government employees on unpaid leave, with no opportunity to claim employment insurance (EI) during the interim. This includes nurses, doctors, teachers, educational assistants, bus drivers, civil servants, etc.
New Brunswick Nurses Union president Paula Doucet has stated that there are at least 854 vacant nursing jobs in New Brunswick and that shortage is only getting worse.1 Recently, New Brunswick hospitals have reduced the operating hours of the emergency departments. They cited a shortage of nurses and other healthcare staff as the reason for this course of action. This is an emergency, indeed. Despite the harrowing statistics, the government plans to place hundreds of nurses on unpaid leave on November 19th for failing to comply with the vaccine mandate.
As we enter the 2021-2022 school year, school districts already face a significant shortage of supply teachers and educational assistants.2 In some instances, these vacancies are going unfulfilled leaving school staff scrambling to fill the gap internally, jeopardizing a healthy and effective learning environment. Again, on November 19th the government plans to put highly experienced staff (veteran educators with up to 30 years’ experience) on unpaid leave and will need to recruit and train inexperienced educators to fill their place. This will place an additional burden on the system and will take a tremendous toll on the children losing their trusted teachers during an already turbulent time.
Similar stresses will impact all areas of public services such as fire and safety, paramedics, engineers, road maintenance, etc. This new policy will affect about 10 per cent – roughly 4700 – of public service employees.3
Since the employment of public servants is governmental in nature, our employer, GNB, is required to abide by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which provides, in Section 7, that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.4 This gives us autonomy over choices that impact on our own physical or psychological integrity. When a requirement is onerous and interferes with liberty and security of the person in ways that bear no connection to its objective, then it can be said to be contrary to principles of fundamental justice.
Given the protection under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I trust you can provide all the following information to prove your measures are indeed “proportional to our situation and the risk posed by COVID-19” 5:
1. I have received several emails about the policy, but I have not received an actual copy of the policy. Please provide me with a copy of the policy.
2. The Deputy Minister of Education’s Aug. 26 memo about the policy said that it was “developed in consultation with Public Health”. Has Public Health formally approved or endorsed this policy? If so, please provide a copy of the approval or endorsement.
3. According to a large Israeli study, never-infected people who were vaccinated in January and February were, in June, July, and the first half of August, six to 13 times more likely to get infected than unvaccinated people who were previously infected with the coronavirus.6 Is providing proof of natural immunity to COVID-19 (i.e., have had and recovered from the virus) an acceptable substitute to providing proof of vaccination status? Why or why not?
4. If I am not yet vaccinated, and decide to get vaccinated in order to comply with this policy, and I suffer serious or lasting side effects from the vaccine, will those injuries be considered to have arisen in the workplace, and if so, could you provide details of the insurance coverage in place to cover this liability?
5. Why is the testing and masking option no longer available? (Under such conditions, those performing the regular testing and strict masking ought to be the safest employees in the building.)
6. A study published in The Lancet medical journal found that the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine fell from 88% to 47% percent six months after the second dose.7 Many teachers and nurses would have had their vaccines more than 6 months ago, thus under 50% efficacy. Why is there no policy to enforce protection from these high-risk individuals?
7. If I am considered to be fully vaccinated under the policy, will I continue to be considered fully vaccinated if I decide not to get any or all of the booster shots that appear to be coming in the future, due to the lack of lasting protection provided by the current vaccines?
8. My understanding is that the purpose of the policy is to ensure the health and safety of employees. Given the mental health toll this policy is already having and will continue to have among employees, and the knowledge both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can spread the virus, can you explain how the policy will ensure the health and safety of employees?
9. The Deputy Minister’s Aug. 26 memo about the policy seems to indicate that the policy is needed because the majority of “new infections” are among the unvaccinated. What percentage of “new infections” in the province being among the vaccinated will trigger a revocation or alteration of the policy?
Your vaccine mandate will be challenged in the court of law. If the mandate is overturned, the government will be required to allow unvaccinated and partially vaccinated employees to return to work and be reimbursed for income lost while on unpaid leave.
The decision to place roughly 4700 public service employees on unpaid leave may deal a crippling blow to our highly vulnerable systems – especially healthcare and education. In addition, the New Brunswick government could be required to pay millions of tax-payer dollars to cover the cost of reimbursing employees for lost wages. Your vaccination mandate is negligent and unethical. It may also be judged unconstitutional.
If I do not receive a response to my questions or a better proposal for addressing health related concerns, I will pursue whatever legal remedies are available to me.
1) CBC Article: At least 854 nursing jobs vacant in New Brunswick, up 154 since April, union says https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nurses-healthcare-new-brunswick-1.6100022
2) Global News Article: New Brunswick teachers will be ready to deal with mandatory vaccination policy: NBTA https://globalnews.ca/news/8135020/nb-teachers-vaccination-policy/
3) CBC Article: Higgs and Russell Update https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/covid-19-new-brunswick-unvaccinated-youth-update-higgs-russell-1.6199972
4) Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s 7, Part 1 of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11.5
5) Global News Article: COVID-19: N.B. to invoke ‘circuit-breaker’ to hot spots, issues Thanksgiving gathering limit https://globalnews.ca/news/8244482/nb-covid-19-update-oct-5-2021/
6) Gavitz, S. et al, (2021). Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415.
7) Tartof, S. Y., et al, (2021). Effectiveness of mrna BNT162B2 COVID-19 vaccine up to 6 months in a large integrated health system in the USA: A retrospective cohort study. The Lancet, 398(10309), 1407–1416. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(21)02183-8