On September 28, 2021, the University put a COVID-19 Vaccination Directive in place in which all employees are required to be fully vaccinated by November 1, 2021 in order to be on campus. Employees that are working remotely must “apply” to be non-compliant with the Directive. Additionally, employees who cannot comply with the Directive have until October 18, 2021, to apply for an accommodation based on a protected ground pursuant to the Alberta Human Rights Act.
The AASUA has received questions about the Directive and provides a summary of responses below.
Is the Directive legal?
In short, yes. The Directive is reasonable and clear, was provided to employees with sufficient notice, and is not in conflict with the Collective Agreement. Should the COVID situation change, the AASUA would examine whether the Directive continues to be reasonable, given the circumstances at the time.
Is the University forcing me to get the vaccine?
The University is not forcing you to get the vaccine. The University is requiring its employees to be vaccinated in order to attend campus. If you choose not to comply with the Directive, in the absence of an accommodation, the University may take disciplinary measures against you.
Can the University fire me if I refuse to get vaccinated?
Only the Provost can terminate an AASUA Member pursuant to the Article 7 Discipline process in the Collective Agreement. Disciplinary measures may be initiated towards AASUA members who are non-compliant with policies set by the University. Should disciplinary measures be taken against an AASUA Member for non-compliance with the Directive, the AASUA will provide representation.
Don’t I have rights that are protected under the Charter?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to federal and provincial governments and legislatures. Universities were traditionally viewed as being independent from government. If the University was subject to the Charter, the Directive would be seen as a reasonable measure that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
What if I can’t get a doctor’s note for a medical accommodation?
It is the employee’s responsibility to secure medical evidence supporting an accommodation request. Please contact a Labour Relations Officer for assistance with the accommodation process.
How can I apply to be non-compliant with the Directive as I am currently working remotely?
The Directive does not provide a process for this so you should contact your Chair/Supervisor to inquire.
Is the AASUA challenging the Directive?
The AASUA takes the position that, currently, there is no chance of successfully challenging the University’s requirement that employees must be vaccinated to be on campus. Given that the University must also abide by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Directive would demonstrate their responsibility for ensuring a safe workplace for all employees.
However, the AASUA is currently disputing the intent of the University to place non-compliant AASUA Members on a “non-disciplinary leave without pay” as stated in the Directive. To that end, the AASUA has commenced the grievance process against the University and more information will be shared as it becomes available.
As well, AASUA will update this FAQ as information becomes available.
How to Request a Meeting with a Labour Relations Officer