Can the employer request my vaccination status?
The Ontario Human Rights commission and other human rights commissions across Canada maintain that mandating and requiring proof of vaccination during a pandemic to protect people at work is generally permissible as long as there are protections in place to ensure that those who are unable to be vaccinated for a Code-related reason can be reasonably accommodated (such as NB, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Man.).
According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, employees have the right to medical privacy and any personal health information that is collected, used, or disclosed must comply with applicable privacy laws. Employers should also limit their questions to gather only the information that is strictly necessary. However, where a mandatory vaccination policy has been implemented for a legitimate purpose and in a reasonable manner, arbitrators have found the collection and disclosure of vaccination status is permitted because it is the only means of administering and enforcing that policy.
Information commissions across Canada have also pronounced themselves on the permissibility of vaccine passports, of which for the purposes of this response, we consider attestations to be effectively a form of the same thing.
In light of the above, we observe that the employer is not requesting medical evidence as a standard measure but is relying on individual attestations rather than medical documentation. While managers do have a right to request proof of vaccination, we expect that these requests will be made on case-by-case basis where a manager has reasonable grounds to question the validity of the attestation provided by the employee. In this regard, the AJC does intend to make recommendations to the Employer to ensure that the manager’s discretion is exercised reasonably, fairly and in good faith. The AJC is currently reviewing draft managerial tools and guides and will be advocating with the best interests of its membership in mind.