Frequently Asked Questions

Who are you?

We are an organization founded by a group of Firefighter/Paramedics in Alberta from different communities. Our mission was to help our brothers and sisters who face employment repercussions because of the AHS mandatory vaccination policy. We are made up of both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who are fighting for the right to preserve bodily autonomy for frontline workers.

Within 24 hours of forming we were flooded with inquiries from frontline workers who need help. We have expanded our scope from just firefighters to include all frontline workers impacted by the AHS vaccine policy.

We are rapidly becoming an umbrella organization to pool resources, fundraise, harmonize strategy and tactics, and focus public attention. Firefighters are good at forming adaptive incident command structures to mitigate the destruction caused by chaotic forces in dynamic environments.

What are you trying to accomplish?

Our primary goal right now is to get AHS to repeal or amend their policy to give employees the option to get regularly tested or prove their immunity through antibody tests instead of getting vaccinated.

What steps are you taking?

We have retained constitutional lawyer Derek From and are taking legal action against AHS. We are reaching out to media to spread our message and we are fundraising to help our efforts. Eventually we will likely be supporting multiple legal battles as individuals from different bargaining units start their fights. We intend to continue applying pressure in whatever way we can to get AHS to do the right thing.

What about Section 1 of the Charter?

Section 1 of the Charter grants government permission to violate normally protected individual rights in the public interest. In this case we have a worldwide pandemic, a stressed healthcare system and various states of declared emergency.

“Most modern constitutions recognize that rights are not absolute and can be limited if this is necessary to achieve an important objective and if the limit is appropriately tailored, or proportionate.”” (Canada (Attorney General) v. JTI-Macdonald Corp., [2007] 2 S.C.R. 610, at paragraph 36).

The government will argue that this gives them wiggle room in the charter to impose policies that would normally be unacceptable. Presumably the government objective here is to stop the spread of a virus and vaccinating healthcare workers is a means to achieve that objective by lowering the likelihood that a healthcare worker will spread the virus while at work.

In this case regular and frequent testing offers an alternate and arguably far more effective means of lowering the likelihood that a healthcare worker will spread the virus at work than simply being vaccinated. So the public interest can be achieved (arguably more effectively) without forcing employees to receive a vaccination they do not want at this moment in time.

The values and principles which guide the Court in applying section 1 include the inherent dignity of the human person, commitment to social justice and equality, accommodation of a wide variety of beliefs, respect for cultural and group identity, and faith in social and political institutions which enhance the participation of individuals and groups in society (R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103 at page 136).

We are confident that the Court will recognize the inherent dignity of healthcare workers who have diverse beliefs, cultures and convictions and will order AHS to make a small, very reasonable accommodation (in the public interest) to allow these individuals to participate in healthcare work safely.

Shouldn’t organizations be free to associate with whomever they want?

Freedom of association is a fundamental right. Private individuals and businesses should certainly have the right to refuse associating with individuals they don’t want to associate with for whatever reasonable and unreasonable grounds they choose.

Government on the other hand does not have the right to free association. They enforce a monopoly on the services they provide (like healthcare) and are therefore the only game in town when in comes to these services. They have estopped their right of association by imposing a monopoly and thereby denying everyone else’s right to associate with each other in the provision of those services.

Put another way; you can’t argue that you have the right to associate with whomever you want while simultaneously denying other people the right to associate with whomever they want. This is why governments cannot deny their services to individuals while private businesses can. This is why government has a higher duty to accommodate than private individuals.

Why won’t my union fight this?

The primary reason cited by most unions is that “we’ve consulted legal counsel and don’t have a case.” But, this isn’t a particularly satisfying answer for those of us who notice that the union fights for a myriad of other issue for its members every day that employers have no legal obligation to address.

Unions are political organizations that serve the collective not the individual. Union executives are incentivized to fight for what is popular rather than what is unpopular among the membership. You’re more likely to see your union spend money on comfy chairs for all members to enjoy rather than contribute that money to a legal fund for an unpopular member who faces unemployment. This isn’t a personal indictment on those union executives this is simply the reality of the system. They wouldn’t last very long in their executive positions if they devoted union time and money on causes that are unpopular among members.

Additionally unions face external incentives. The political parties and candidates that support policies that unions find favourable also tend to be the same political parties and candidates that support coercive public health measures. Unions therefore undermine their own support by alienating politicians that support them.

The only way to change this is to popularize our message among union members and run for executive positions if current executives don’t get in front of the parade we create (they likely will). Popularizing our message may not be possible in a cultural climate that has marginalized the unvaccinated. In the meantime we will proceed with or without union support and hope that eventually they get on the right side of this issue.

Why are labour lawyers saying there are no grounds to fight this?

Labour lawyers (the kind unions retain) have a narrow law specialty. They are likely correct when they say there are no legal grounds to fight this case…from their narrow lens. However, labour law is nested inside the constitution and labour lawyers are not experts in constitutional law. Many constitutional lawyers have a differing opinion about the legality of the vaccine policy. This is why we’ve retained a constitutional lawyer.

You had to receive multiple vaccinations to be employed why raise a fuss now?

Employees have had to tolerate all sorts of things in the past that they don’t have to tolerate now because we’ve made moral progress. We don’t have to have sex with the boss anymore to keep our job, we don’t have to tolerate sexual harassment to keep our job, we don’t even have to tolerate misgendering or triggering language anymore to keep our job. Just because we have tolerated coercive violations of bodily autonomy in the past doesn’t sentence us to continue tolerating the same violations today.

Additionally we have new technology today that makes vaccination policies unnecessary to prevent the spread of pathogens. Blood titres that show immunity to pathogens negate the necessity for some vaccinations. Rapid antigen and PCR testing can prove that an employee isn’t contagious. Perhaps you could’ve argued in the past that the only way to know an employee is safe and not contagious is to vaccinate them, but that is not the case with SARS-CoV-2.

Certainly when effective alternatives are available coercing employees into taking unwanted injections becomes unethical. If technology exists to prove that employees aren’t carrying a contagious pathogen then those technologies ought to become options instead of unwanted injections.

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