Lior Samfiru on employee dismissals in Hamilton hospitals

Interview Summary

Hamilton Health Sciences is the latest hospital centre to be on the verge of terminating more employees as a result of vaccine mandates. Many hospitals are currently experiencing labour shortages and some worry the vaccine mandates in place could put a further strain on the system. What are employees’ options if unvaccinated and working in healthcare? Do employers have a right to implement vaccine mandates without government support?

Lior Samfiru, a Toronto employment lawyer and national co-managing partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP spoke with Rick Zamperin on 900 CHML to discuss the ongoing staffing crisis.

Interview Notes

Does the legality of vaccine mandates differ when they are implemented in healthcare settings?

The provincial government decided that hospitals do not have to implement mandatory vaccinations in order to maintain health and safety but instead could continue to enforce other regulations such as adequate PPE and testing. Employees who are terminated as a result of their vaccination status in hospitals are owed severance entitlements, and cannot be deemed to have been terminated for cause.

Do other sectors have less or more authority in implementing vaccine policies?

The government has not implemented any mandatory vaccinations apart from in long-term care homes. Employees in sectors without a government mandate must be paid severance if terminated.

Has there been a rise in wrongful dismissal claims due to vaccination policies?

There has been a sharp rise in wrongful dismissal claims as a result of unvaccinated employees facing termination or being placed on unpaid leave. Many employees have been wrongfully terminated for cause and are within their rights to pursue severance pay.

Can employers who have fired unvaccinated employees bring back workers?

Employers are within their rights to bring back employees who have been terminated however it is unlikely. In many cases, it seems that hospitals may have threatened termination in order to incentivize employees to be vaccinated.

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