A federal labour board has agreed to hear the case of a government employee denied a waiver from the vaccine mandate on religious grounds. Data show the overwhelming majority of requests for religious exemptions were denied, often with no reason given.

“The grievance is neither trivial nor vexatious,” wrote Marie-Claude Perrault, an adjudicator with the Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. No date for the hearing was set.

Jennifer Squires, a senior financial services advisor with Parks Canada, sought a religious exemption under the agency’s 2021 Policy On Covid-19 Vaccination. Squires was denied and suspended without pay.

Squires’ union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, formally requested a hearing on whether cursory dismissal of her request was unfair. “The remedies she seeks relate to a grave injustice to her,” the Board was told.

Cabinet on November 15, 2021 ordered that federal employees show proof of vaccination under threat of suspension or prove valid reasons for an exemption. At least 2,560 were suspended without pay, by official estimate.

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