Quebec judge rules against health-care workers, says they failed to show vaccine mandate was unreasonable

The Quebec government has already decided to not go ahead with a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health-care workers. That decision didn't stop a judge from issuing a ruling on the province's original plan.

Judgment comes 12 days after government retreated from threat to suspend unvaccinated workers

Despite the Quebec government's decision earlier this month to not go ahead with a vaccination mandate for health-care workers, a judge has rendered a decision regarding the the province's original plan. (Radio-Canada)

Earlier this month, the Quebec government backed down from making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health-care workers.

But a challenge of the policy was still making its way through the courts.

On Monday, a Superior Court judge rejected a request from a group of health-care staff for an injunction to postpone the application of the province's vaccination mandate until both sides present their full arguments in January.

The group argued that the vaccination rule would constitute an "irreparable prejudice" because it would prevent thousands of Quebecers from having access to health-care given the fact the workers who are not adequately vaccinated would be suspended without pay.

According to Justice Michel Yergeau, the lawyer representing the health-care workers failed to prove that the decree needed to be suspended. 

In his ruling, the judge wrote that the vaccination mandate isn't necessarily forcing staff to get their shots, and the suspension of workers is a harm that can be undone if the government's decree is later deemed invalid.

"[In light of that], the repercussions that [the vaccination mandate] would have on the quality, the reliability or the resilience of the health system and on its ability to respond to the needs of the Quebec population do not go beyond hypothetical scenarios," he wrote. 

More than 17,000 health-care workers were unvaccinated as of Nov. 3, according to the Quebec government.

The lawyer for the health-care workers, Natalie Manole, presented her arguments for an injunction on Oct. 27.

At the time, the province had already pushed back the original deadline of its vaccination mandate, and the judge said he would render a ruling regardless of what the Quebec government decided to do with the new deadline.