Canada’s Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said she believes people who lose their jobs for not complying with COVID-19 vaccine mandates will not be eligible for employment insurance (EI). We are quite certain this is illegal…
“It’s a condition of employment that hasn’t been met,” Qualtrough said in an interview with the CBC. “And the employer choosing to terminate someone for that reason would make that person ineligible for EI.”
“I can tell you that’s the advice I’m getting, and that’s the advice I’ll move forward with.”
The website for Employment and Social Development Canada says EI is available to “all individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (for example, due to shortage of work, seasonal or mass lay-offs) and are available for and able to work, but can’t find a job.” For most individuals, EI pays 55% of their average weekly earnings up to a maximum of $595 per week.
Qualtrough’s comments come as workplaces across the country are requiring employees to take the vaccine under threat of termination.
Parliament’s governing body recently announced a mandatory vaccination policy for MPs who do not have a recognized medical exemption. The Toronto Police Service announced yesterday that officers who are not vaccinated will be placed on unpaid leave. Thousands of unvaccinated healthcare workers across the country are also being placed on an unpaid leave and facing termination.
Paul Champ, an employment lawyer in Ottawa, offered comment against Qualtrough’s position on EI and vaccine mandates.
“I think it’s very arguable about whether employees terminated for not getting the vaccine requirement is just cause for termination,” he said in an interview.
Employees terminated for just cause are neither eligible for severance nor EI.
“That interferes with bodily integrity and at least my opinion — and I think the consensus among most employment lawyers right now — is that it’s not just cause for an employee to refuse that, at least in most circumstances,” Champ said.