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Dozens of first responders protest mandatory vaccines for city employees

Last Updated Sep 9, 2021 at 3:48 pm MDT

CALGARY — Mandatory vaccinations for all City of Calgary employees comes into effect at the end of October, and it is pushing Calgary police, fire, their unions, and the city into new territory as some members protest the mandate.

One by one, first responders could be seen touching the firefighter’s memorial outside City Hall, where they protested the mandatory vaccine order Tuesday.

“The short discussion and consultation caught them off guard,” said Lorian Hardcastle, who specializes in health and law policy at the University of Calgary.

Back on Aug. 25, Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld said they were working closely with the city to find ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

This was before the City of Calgary issued its mandatory vaccine protocol for all city employees.

RELATED: City of Calgary mandating vaccines for employees

In a statement Wednesday, Neufeld says they are working with their own experts as well as city partners on the issue, prior to making a decision on mandatory vaccinations or testing:

“We support the rights for peaceful protest but encourage our members to be patient as we work through this extremely unique situation. As a service, we continue to encourage eligible members to get vaccinated and believe it is the most effective way to ensure the safety of our members as well as the public we serve,” said Neufeld.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Firefighters’ Association says it is aware of members participating in that protest.

“Approximately 85 per cent of our members are vaccinated for COVID-19. Our job is to be there for the members of our community.

“Vaccinations are an important part of keeping our members, their families, and the public safe. We will continue to support vaccinations and all COVID-19 safety protocols for our members.”

City employees, without religious or health exemption, who are not fully vaccinated by Oct. 31 will be disciplined and could be fired.

Hardcastle expects there to be litigation over the move, but given the public health crisis, the courts will likely be deferential to vaccine mandates.