The Alberta Human Rights Commission ("AHRC") recently issued written guidance on vaccine mandates and proof of vaccination. Here are a few key takeaways for employers, service providers, and landlords: 

  • Employers, service providers, and landlords have a duty to accommodate a person with a disability or other relevant protected ground (i.e. religious beliefs) that supports a person's inability to be vaccinated.
  • A business is not required to allow an unvaccinated person to enter their establishment to accommodate; other methods may be appropriate. The other methods might include offering curbside pickup or online shopping.
  • Similarly, an employer is not required to allow an unvaccinated employee to enter their workplace to accommodate; other methods, including allowing the employee to work from home, or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing, may be appropriate.
  • The AHRC cannot address claims of human rights violations on the grounds of personal opinion or political beliefs.
  • The AHRC also cannot address claims of rights violations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Where a complaint involves a vaccination requirement, the AHRC will require the following be produced early in the complaint process:
    • Where the complaint is based on the ground of mental or physical disability, medical information confirming that the person has a disability that prevents them from being vaccinated for COVID-19; or
    • Where the complaint based on the ground of religious belief, it must be supported by a sincerely held belief that is connected to a person's faith.
  • Vaccination mandates and proof of vaccination should address current pandemic conditions. Accordingly, policies should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that they do not go further than required at any given time. 

Employers, service providers, and landlords will need to keep in mind the requirement to assess requests for accommodation individually. Application of a blanket policy on how to deal with accommodation requests will not necessarily be sufficient to constitute reasonable accommodation in every case. The circumstances of the individual in question must be considered.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.