University of Alberta dentistry student Will Teichgraber won his case against Alberta Health Services (AHS) over the ministry’s vaccine mandate, according to a press release by Liberty Coalition Canada (LCC) on Monday.
LCC said that due to the work of its chief litigator James Kitchen and other legal pushback against the Alberta government, AHS ended its mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for health care workers.
According to LCC, unvaccinated health care workers can now enter certain AHS buildings if they provide a negative test.
“Will Teichgraber is now able to continue his practicum and is on schedule to write his dentistry exams this spring to become a licensed dentist,” said LCC.
LCC thanked all the people who funded the Liberty Defense Fund which “made this important victory possible.”
Teichgraber was expected to graduate from the University of Alberta after completing his placement in 2022 but, according to LLC, was unable to receive COVID-19 vaccines because of his Christian beliefs. The university, the organization said, granted him a religious exemption, which applied to university property.
The AHS then implemented a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for all students coming into their buildings in November, which LCC said included the dental clinic that Teichgraber was supposed to work for. Because Teichgraber could not fulfill his degree requirements without securing an alternative placement, he approached multiple private dental clinics for help.
The university then rejected Teichgraber’s proposed terms of accommodation because of administrative burdens, extra costs and increased liability, according to LCC. The university argued that the only possible accommodation they could give Teichgraber was to delay the completion of his degree.
LCC agreed to represent Teichgraber after he submitted an appeal of the university’s denial of accommodations to the dean of students.
Unvaccinated Alberta health care workers are now permitted to submit negative tests instead of vaccine passports at facilities that would lack staff without them. AHS president and CEO Verna Yiu has estimated that about 260 employees at 16 locations across the province would meet this criteria.
“I want to be clear, the testing option is temporary and will be limited in scope,” said Yiu. “Only clinical work locations deemed to be at significant risk of service disruptions due to staffing shortages resulting from unvaccinated staff will be part of the testing program.”
Teichgraber could not be reached for comment in time for publication.