Employers can demand workers be vaccinated against COVID-19: Quebec premier

Quebec Premier François Legault is insisting employers have the right to oblige their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 upon returning to the workplace.

"I want to be clear," he said. "Employers have the right to require that their employees are vaccinated."

He points out public health officials are still recommending people work from home, when possible.

"Some jobs, where you have to return to the office, such as in factories, then it becomes the employer's decision to ensure the safety of all their employees and clients," Legault said. "So, it's up to the employer to make that decision."

This comes as Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced health care workers would be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, adding further details would be revealed in the coming days.

"The premier is playing a dangerous game. Can he stop playing with our emotions and stay consistent?" argued Vincent Marissal, Québec solidaire's opposition critic on health.

He insists Legault's government has been flip-flopping on which sectors would have mandatory vaccinations and whether or not employers have the right to fire non-compliant employees.

"If François Legault wants to expand mandatory vaccination, he should be transparent," he said. "Stop doing it on the sly and start by debating it in the National Assembly in order to answer all the questions it raises."

VACCINATION PASSPORTS

Quebec's COVID-19 vaccine passport came into effect Wednesday, barring non-vaccinated people from certain non-essential services, such as bars, restaurants and gyms.

Legault notes he's not worried about the small minority of people who may be unhappy with his decision to bring forth vaccine passports, saying he's proud to have been "the leader" to do so.

"Eighty-eight per cent of Quebecers have a first dose, so 88 per cent support the vaccine," he stated. "I think the vast majority of the population, they want a return back to a normal life. We need to help restaurants, gyms, bars, all those places that suffered in the last year."

There are certain exemptions to the rule, including those who participated in the Medicago vaccine trial and anyone "with contraindications to vaccination against COVID-19" who will have to ask for a doctor's note to prove they cannot be vaccinated.

The premier notes he is currently working with other provinces to ensure Quebecers can travel safely and show proof of vaccination.

"I’m talking with the premiers of other provinces in order to have a certain harmonization, in order to make sure the passport we have in Quebec can be used, for example, in Ontario, B.C. and other provinces," Legault explained.

The province implemented mandatory vaccine passports as a response to the recent increase in cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant.

To see the complete list of activities covered by Quebec's vaccine passport, click here (in French).

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