A group of firefighters have said they plan to take Alberta Health Services to court over the vaccine mandate.
Last week a group of Alberta first responders sent a letter to Alberta Health Services saying they will take AHS to court over what they call the "unconstitutional" vaccine mandate.
The group, known as Fight for the Frontline, is made up of firefighters, paramedics, and other front-line staff who have hired a law firm to take up their case in court.
Spokesperson Tim Moen, who is a firefighter-paramedic, said he speaks for those who may have medical conditions, religious exemptions, or what he calls natural immunity from contracting the COVID-19 virus.
Moen said, in listening to his colleagues, he found many who may lose their jobs because they are unvaccinated.
“Hearing their stories kind of broke my heart and so I wanted to get involved and help them out,” Moen said.
“Our communities are less safe without these guys working for us.”
Moen expects around one to two per cent of first responders may lose their jobs on Nov. 1, after the AHS mandate kicks in. Right now, the group is made up of around 40 to 50 front-line firefighters and 200 front-line workers.
The group wrote a letter to AHS demanding it provide rapid-testing options, and recognize: natural immunity; exemptions under the Alberta Human Rights Act; that an unpaid leave of absence is a constructive dismissal; that unvaccinated employees are entitled to severance upon dismissal; and that it compensate individuals who suffer vaccine injuries because of this mandate.
Moen said some people would prefer to get tested regularly, and other staff have “taken the vaccination under coercion.”
Moen said he is vaccinated, but may not want a future series of booster shots, or he may have a health problem that could prevent him from getting the vaccine.
The letter sent to AHS said the mandate is unfair because none of the COVID-19 vaccines have been satisfactorily proven safe. The letter said those who are vaccinated should be required to undergo testing to ensure they are not unwittingly spreading infections.
The World Health Organization and all other leading health organizations say the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and there are strict protections in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines.
“Before receiving validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies, COVID-19 vaccines must undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and efficacy,” the WHO website reads.
“Unprecedented scientific collaborations have allowed COVID-19 vaccine research, development, and authorizations to be completed in record time — to meet the urgent need for these vaccines while maintaining high safety standards. As with all vaccines, WHO and regulatory authorities will continuously monitor the use of COVID-19 vaccines to identify and respond to any safety issues that might arise, and through that process to assure they remain safe for use around the world.”
Experts say natural immunity doesn’t replace immunity from vaccination.
The group said they have other concerns, including that religious and medical exemptions are exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to attain.
Moen said they have heard back from AHS, who is asking them for the identities of those behind the letter. Moen said they are reluctant to reveal their identities for fear of retribution.
Firefighters and paramedics are often employed by municipalities that have contracts to provide emergency medical services, such as the situation in St. Albert, and Moen said they just want to follow the same rules municipalities have in place, such as regular testing, rather than have a vaccine mandate.
The letter said that if the demands listed are not met, they will be moving forward with a Constitutional challenge in court. Moen said they hope to have the issue resolved before it reaches the justice system.
Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette