COVID - Labour/Employment. Francis v. Canada (Attorney General)
In Francis v. Canada (Attorney General) (Fed CA, 2023) the Federal Court of Appeal considered (and upheld) a JR "of a decision of the Appeal Division of the Social Security Tribunal" regarding an employment insurance benefits denial. The material facts were that the employee "refused to comply with the employer’s mandatory policy to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination":
 The benefits were denied pursuant to s. 30 of the Employment Insurance Act, S.C. 1996, c. 23. This section provides that an employee is disqualified from receiving employment insurance benefits if the employee loses employment due to misconduct.. Perrin v. Canadian Union of Public Employees
 The applicant was dismissed by his employer on the ground that he refused to comply with the employer’s mandatory policy to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination. The applicant had requested an exemption from the policy based on creed but the employer denied this request.
In Perrin v. Canadian Union of Public Employees (Fed CA, 2023) the Federal Court of Appeal considered a JR of a CIRB [Canada Industrial Relations Board] 'duty of fair representation' (s.37 of the Canada Labour Code) decision, here regarding COVID vaccination policy which the union did not grieve:
 The applicants alleged in their complaint that the Union breached its duty by refusing to file a policy grievance challenging Air Canada’s mandatory vaccination policy. The applicants are a group of flight attendants, pursers and service directors employed with Air Canada. Ms. Perrin was mandated to bring the complaint on their behalf.. National Organized Workers Union v. Sinai Health System
 In its decision, the Board found that since the factual considerations and legal arguments raised in the complaint were substantially similar to those reviewed and addressed in its recently issued decision Ingrid Watson v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, 2022 CIRB 1002 [Watson], it could rely on its analysis and rationale. In Watson, it had concluded that the Union had not breached its duty of fair representation when it refused to file a policy grievance with respect to Air Canada’s mandatory vaccination policy. The Board’s decision has since been upheld by this Court in Watson v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, 2023 FCA 48 [Watson FCA].
 ... Moreover, contrary to the applicants’ assertion, the Board did examine the Union’s conduct. It found that the Union had communicated regularly with its membership regarding the implementation of the policy, and that it had turned its mind to the issues raised by the members, including those who disapproved of the policy for various reasons. The Board was not required to refer to every document in the record, to respond to every argument or to make an explicit finding on each element leading to its conclusion (Vavilov at paras. 91, 128; Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union v. Newfoundland and Labrador (Treasury Board), 2011 SCC 62 at para. 16). There is no basis for concluding that the Board ignored evidence or that it failed to grapple with any of the issues raised by the applicants.
In National Organized Workers Union v. Sinai Health System (Ont CA, 2022) the Court of Appeal, in the course of reviewing a lower court's interlocutory injunction RJR-Macdonald analysis, states the central conclusion of the courts generally on the tension between employer COVID vaccination policies and employees who don't want to follow them:
 The application judge made no palpable and overriding factual error in the findings she made about the harm at issue if injunctive relief were not granted. At its core, the harm at issue was the potential for being placed on leave without pay or terminated under the Policy, if an employee chose to remain unvaccinated. The appellant’s members were not being forced to be vaccinated, denied bodily autonomy, or denied the right to give informed consent to vaccination. They could choose to be vaccinated or not. If they chose not to be vaccinated, they faced being placed on unpaid leave or having their employment terminated. This potential harm is fundamentally related to employment. It is harm which an arbitrator has the tools to remedy. If the appellant were to prevail in the arbitration, an arbitrator could order reinstatement without loss of seniority and compensation for lost wages. There is no palpable and overriding error in the application judge’s conclusion that there was no remedial gap in the labour relations regime that warranted the exercise of the Superior Court’s residual jurisdiction.. Taylor v. Hanley Hospitality Inc.
 The application judge’s characterization of the harm is consistent with other trial level decisions considering requests for injunctive relief in relation to mandatory vaccination policies in both unionized and non-unionized workplaces: Wojdan v. Canada (Attorney General), 2021 FC 1341, at paras. 27 and 34-36 (appeal dismissed as moot: 2022 FCA 120); Lachance c. Procureur général du Québec, 2021 QCCS 4721, at paras. 137 and 144; Kotsopoulos v. North Bay General Hospital,  O.J. No. 715 (S.C.), at paras. 16-18; Milka Cavic v. Canadian Union of Public Employees Union Local 905, 2022 CanLII 5015 (Ont. L.R.B.) at para. 43; Lavergne-Poitras v. Canada (Attorney General), 2021 FC 1232 at para. 7. See also Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 v. Toronto Transit Commission, 2017 ONSC 2078, 275 L.A.C. (4th) 187, at para. 79, for similar reasoning in the context of a mandatory drug and alcohol testing policy.
In Taylor v. Hanley Hospitality Inc. (Ont CA, 2022) the Court of Appeal considered some COVID-inspired employment leave changes (infectious disease emergency leave) to the Employment Standards Act:
 On March 17, 2020, pursuant to s. 7.0.1(1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, Ch. E.9 (“EMCPA”), the Ontario government declared a state of emergency in response to the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the declared emergency, under 7.0.2 of the EMCPA, the Lieutenant Governor in Council was broadly empowered to make such emergency orders that were “necessary and essential in the circumstances to prevent, reduce or mitigate serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property”. Numerous emergency measures were enacted and still continue.
 In issue in this appeal are the amendments to ss. 50.1 and 141 of the ESA and the provisions of O. Reg 228/20 made under the ESA that create a new category of leave under the ESA: the infectious disease emergency leave (“IDEL”). The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020, S.O. 2020, c. 3 (“ESAA”) contained the amendments and was assented to on March 19, 2020. O. Reg. 228/20 was made under the ESA on May 28, 2020 and filed on May 29, 2020.
 Sections 50.1(1.1)(a) and (b) of the ESA prescribe the circumstances when an employee is entitled to an IDEL without pay if the employee will not be performing the duties of his or her position. Section 50.1(1.2) prescribes when an employee is entitled to a paid leave of absence and the employer’s obligations to provide pay if an employee is required to miss work for reasons associated with COVID-19. Section 50.1(1.3) provides that under s. 50.1(1.2), an employee is entitled to a total of three paid days of leave.
 Section 50.1(1.1)(a) deals with circumstances that prevent an employee from performing the duties of his or her position because of an emergency declared under section 7.0.1 of the EMCPA, an order made under section 7.0.2 of the EMCPA or the Health Protection and Promotion Act, because he or she is needed to provide care or assistance to a person designated under section 50.1(8), or for other prescribed reasons. Section 50.1(1.1)(b) focuses on reasons preventing an employee from performing the duties of his or her employment that are caused by or related to exposure to a designated infectious disease, such as being under medical investigation or treatment, quarantine, providing support to an affected individual, or travel restrictions. Other reasons include because of an order under section 22 or 35 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act that relates to the designated infectious disease, because of a direction from an employer in response to a concern that the employee may expose other individuals in the workplace to the designated infectious disease, or because of other prescribed reasons.
 In addition to the existing regulatory powers for carrying out the purposes of the ESA under section 141(1), the regulatory powers of the Lieutenant Governor in Council were amended and expanded in the ESAA to allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make broad transitional regulations, including:
i. Section 141(184.108.40.206) which permits regulations “for any transitional matter that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable in connection with the implementation of the amendments made by the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020”. Sections 141(2.0.3) to (220.127.116.11) also refer to a number of acts enacted pre and post pandemic under which the Lieutenant Governor in Council may regulate in connection with the implementation of the amendments of those acts: Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, 2017; Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018; Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019; Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020; Covid-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021; Working for Workers Act, 2021; O. Reg. 228/20, made under the ESA and subtitled, “Infectious Disease Emergency Leave”, for the purposes of s. 50.1 of the ESA designates COVID-19, among others, as an infectious disease. It then sets out the parameters of and entitlements to IDEL. These include when an employee is deemed to be on IDEL (s. 4); when an employee is not deemed to be on IDEL (s. 5); and when an employee, whose hours of work are temporarily reduced or eliminated by the employer, or whose wages are temporarily reduced by the employer, for reasons related to the designated infectious disease during the COVID-19 period, is not considered to be laid off (s. 6) or constructively dismissed (s. 7). Sections 5, 6 and 7 exempt an employee from the application of IDEL whose employment was terminated on or after March 1, 2020, or who was constructively dismissed or laid off for longer than the temporary lay-off period before May 29, 2020. Finally, s. 8 prohibits employees from bringing any complaint during the designated pandemic period.
ii. Section 141(2.0.4) provides that in the event of a conflict between the ESA or its regulations, and a regulation made under sections 141(2.0.3) to (18.104.22.168), the latter, transitional regulations prevail;
iii. Section 141(2.1) that allows for regulations designating an infectious disease for the purpose of section 50.1 and respecting all aspects of the IDEL;
iv. Section 141(2.2) that stipulates that a regulation made under, among other subsections, (2.1), or a regulation prescribing a reason for the purposes of subclause 50.1(1.1)(a)(iv) may, among other things,
(b) provide that an employee who does not perform the duties of his or her position because of the declared emergency and the prescribed reason, or because of the prescribed reason related to a designated infectious disease, as defined in section 50.1, is deemed to have taken leave beginning on the first day the employee does not perform the duties of his or her position on or after the date specified in the regulation.