Lisa Bolton and Zack Lebane from Sherrard Kuzz Employment & Labour Lawyers made a presentation on “COVID 19 Vaccination and the Workplace”. Lisa reviewed of the changing Federal and Provincial COVID requirements.
Zack talked about when a vaccination policy reasonable. In a unionized workplace, a vaccination policy should meet the “KVP Test”: it must be consistent with the collective agreement; reasonable; clear & unequivocal; brought to the attention of employees; employees must be notified that a breach of the policy could result in discharge; and it should be consistently enforced.
Zack talked about a number of legal decisions about “reasonableness”: The takeaways from Zack’s presentation included:
- If indoors and in-person, a vaccination or test policy is likely reasonable.
- In a workplace with higher risk of transmission, higher consequences and/or history of outbreaks, vaccination or leave of absence policy is likely reasonable. Discipline or termination can be contemplated as a later step.
- Expect more vaccinate or terminate policies in the coming months in the health care sector.
- Trajectory of COVID-19 will impact reasonableness.
- Employers should be prepared to amend or update policies as needed.
Lisa concluded the presentation on vaccination and religious objection. Most human rights-based exemption requests are based on religious beliefs. Several legal decisions were reviewed. As a takeaway, Lisa suggested several questions to ask to support an accommodation request:
- What religion/creed do you practice?
- How long have you practiced this religion/creed?
- Why does your belief in this religion/creed prevent you from being vaccinated against COVID-19?
- Have you previously been vaccinated against any other illnesses? If so, why were those vaccinations permissible under your religion/creed?
- Do you have objective documentation to support the position you are unable to be vaccinated?
- Critically review information received since it is unlikely that claims based on an employee’s conscience will be sufficient, even if claim is that religion protects the ability to follow one’s conscience.
- If accommodation is required, employees are not entitled to ‘choose’ a remote work arrangement if another arrangement is feasible (i.e., testing).
Ryan Wheeler of Trans-Northern Pipeline Inc. (TNPI) made a presentation on “A Summary of Trans-Northern 2021 Exercise Program”.
Ryan mentioned the 4 pillars of Trans-Northern Emergency Management Program as prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Ryan summarized TNPI annual exercise program which includes:
- A full-scale exercise every 3 years.
- Regional table-top exercises.
- A business continuity/disaster recovery planning table-top exercise.
- Quarterly drills testing TNPI’s call answering service.
- Participation in the Western Canada Spill Services Cooperative drill/exercise.
The Full-Scale Exercise postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19 was held in November 2021. TNPI uses the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Exercise Planning Model. The exercise focused on a security event at the Edmonton International Airport. A key lesson learned indicated that in the event of malicious activity an organization must consider the impact of law enforcement and crime scene management which will likely cause significant delays in site access and response.
Regional Table-Top Exercises focused on initial strategies and tactics for spills into bodies of water. The exercise was used to review existing aerial surveillance, how industry resources could improve capacity, and notifications with regional stakeholders. In the exercise used a Mentimeter to facilitate a quiz approach.
Regional Preparedness Exercises focused on responding to a stalled pipeline inspection gauge (PIG).
The Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Planning Table-Top Exercise evaluated a cyber security threat to its operational technology and included a presentation on best practices promoted by Canada’s Cyber Security Centre. The exercise also tested mitigation, response and recovery measures to protect and recover critical business operations.
TNPI also does quarterly Call Answering Service Drills and is involved in the Western Canada Spills Services Oil Spill Cooperative Drills.