A recent ruling by the Canadian Armed Forces Grievance Board (CAFGB) found that the Canadian Armed Force’s (CAF) mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy violated the Charter rights of a member who was released for refusing to get vaccinated.

The CAFGB is in charge of reviewing official grievances launched by CAF members. 

In its ruling, the CAFGB stated that the CAF’s vaccination policy infringed on the member’s right to liberty and security of the person under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

The watchdog also found that the policy, which came in place at the height of the pandemic via an order by General Wayne Eyre, was arbitrary, overly broad and disproportionate.

“The Committee concluded that the policy infringed on the rights protected under Section 7 of the Charter and that the limitations of these rights were not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.  The Committee viewed some aspects of the policy as arbitrary and overly broad, and its implementation as disproportionate,” declared the ruling. 

It then concluded that the CAF had not shown that mandatory vaccination was necessary to protect public health or operational effectiveness, given the high vaccination rate within the CAF. 

“The Committee concluded that the CAF had not met its obligation to ensure minimal impairment in the implementation of its vaccination policy. The Committee concluded that the limitations were not justified under Section 1 of the Charter,” wrote the CAFGB.

According to the watchdog, the process of releasing the member from their service was “unreasonable due to serious breaches of procedural fairness.” 

As exclusively reported by True North in Nov. 2021, unvaccinated CAF members were subject to an “unsuitable for further service” release, which would leave a permanent stain on the members’ service record. 

As a remedial measure, the CAFGB ordered the CAF to fully reinstate the member to their former position and give them compensation for “unjust release.”  

“Additionally, the Committee found that the administrative actions against the grievor, namely the RM and release, should not have occurred as the grievor was exercising a protected Charter right. The Committee also found that the administrative actions were unreasonable due to serious breaches of procedural fairness,” wrote the CAFGB. 

“The Committee recommended that the Final Authority cancel the RM and facilitate the grievor’s re-enrolment in the CAF, if the grievor so desired and was eligible. The Committee also recommended that consideration be given to compensation for unjust release.”

This ruling comes amid a lawsuit filed by hundreds of unvaccinated CAF members against the Defence Ministry and the CAF’s command.