A group in the health care field in BC, some in senior roles and many of them fired for refusing COVID vaccinations, are suing the government.

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Several senior health-care administrators and other former workers who were fired for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccination have filed a formal petition seeking to end mandatory shots for employees in the province’s health sector.

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The BC Supreme Court lawsuit names 11 individuals who are challenging orders issued by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. They are being represented by the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, a legal advocacy group based in Alberta.

The purpose of Henry’s orders was to protect patients from being infected with the COVID virus by unvaccinated health professionals, as well as to minimize the number of people being hospitalized or dying because of the virus.

But the center is arguing that the health mandates violate their clients’ Charter rights, and they want the orders declared null and void.

“The position of the Justice Center is that we recognize that vulnerable populations have to be protected, but the orders go too far because many of our petitioners do not even work with vulnerable populations,” said Karen Bastow, one of the lawyers on the case .

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“They were, for instance, working in an administrative capacity, or working remotely prior to COVID. There is an unfairness here between the rules that had been applied under the regulated health professions and our petitioners, who are for the most part non-union.”

Charlene Le Beau, another lawyer for the petitioners, said that it is clear that the vast majority of Canadians and health-care workers have been willing to take the vaccine.

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“But our petitioners, for justified and valid reasons — reasons that have been recognized in the context of vaccination mandates in other workplaces in Canada and around the world — don’t wish to take the vaccine,” said Le Beau.

Phyllis Janet Tatlock, one of the 11 petitioners, was a director of operations at the BC Cancer Agency, which is part of the Provincial Health Services Authority. She said she was terminated by her employer because of her refusal to get a vaccine.

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Tatlock, who lives in Prince George and was previously employed as a manager and an executive-director of the Alberta Health Services, said she is a Christian who objects to getting vaccinated on the basis of her religion.

Tatlock said she submitted a request for a religious exemption, but was denied. She believes that “state coercion” would have her take a vaccine that is ineffective.

Monika Bielecki, who was an employee health and wellness adviser with BC Interior Health, said she had been working remotely since February 2016 until she was terminated for refusing to get vaccinated.

“Ms. Bielecki objects to taking the COVID-19 vaccine on the basis of conscience. She states that acceptance of any medical intervention is her personal choice of her, based on her health status and risk factors.

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Darold Sturgeon, who had held senior positions with Interior Health for more than 14 years but did not work in a health-care setting and was not a health-care worker, said he was also terminated for refusing to be vaccinated.

“Mr. Sturgeon is a Christian. He objects to taking a COVID-19 vaccine on the basis of religion. Mr. Sturgeon submitted a request for religious exemption, but it was denied,” according to the petition.

Family physician Dr. Joshua Nordine said his employment with the Bridge Detox Center in Kelowna was terminated by Interior Health because he had not been vaccinated. His hospital privileges were also revoked.

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Nordine said he is a Christian who objects to taking the vaccine on religious and medical grounds.

“In addition, in January 2022, Dr. Nordine was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus. He now has natural immunity to COVID-19,” the petition states.

In an email, the provincial health ministry declined to comment on the petition, saying it is an ongoing legal matter.

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