Lawyer says yoga studio should be legally allowed to ask clients for vaccination status
Bodhi Tree Yoga requiring proof of vaccination before allowing people to attend classes
A lawyer from Saskatoon believes Bodhi Tree Yoga will be allowed to require proof of vaccination for anyone wishing to take in-person classes.
The Regina yoga studio made headlines this week after it said anyone wanting to attend in-person classes must provide evidence they had received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
The requirement will be in place one day after the province removes all pandemic restrictions on July 11.
After the yoga studio's announcement, a Saskatchewan government representative said the province would not be enforcing mandatory vaccine passports, like those seen in Manitoba. The spokesperson also said that asking for a person's vaccination status may violate The Health Information Protection Act.
Keir Vallance, a lawyer with Bainbridge, Jodouin and Cheecham in Saskatoon, doesn't believe that will be the case.
"Certainly, there's legislation and policies and procedures around the collection and storage and distribution of information," said Vallence on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.
"But simply asking for confirmation, I don't see that as really any different than somebody being carded at a bar, for example."
Studio co-owner Colin Hall said he had made the decision, in part, to protect the health and safety of his employees.
Vallance said employers have an obligation to keep workers safe under occupational health and safety legislation. He also said it is in the studio's best interest to reduce sick times for workers.
While businesses may be able to ask customers for proof of vaccination, it may be a different matter when it comes to asking employees whether they got their shots.
Vallance said that there are many different reasons why someone might be unwilling to get vaccinated — from medical reasons to religious concerns.
As a result, he said any employer interested in going down that road should ask for outside help.
"It's going to vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it's going to vary from workplace to workplace, and it's going to vary from contract to contract," he said.
"It's enough of a minefield, I think, that legal advice is probably advisable."
Bodhi Tree Yoga said it would continue to offer online classes for anyone not vaccinated.
With files from Saskatoon Morning, Colleen Silverthorn, Leisha Grebinski