As Ontario prepares to enter Phase 2 of reopening, ministry personnel and Communities of Faith naturally have questions about how to safely be together once again.
One of the many concerns that has surfaced is whether Communities of Faith can require worshippers and staff to be vaccinated before returning to in-person gatherings.
Regarding whether the Community of Faith can require its employees to be vaccinated prior to returning to the workplace, the United Church of Canada legal counsel says:
“Non-health care employers cannot refuse worksite access to non-vaccinated employees. In fact, currently refusing to allow a non-vaccinated employee, who has passed the screening protocol, entry into the workplace currently bears the risk of a finding of constructive dismissal against the employer, with ensuing wrongful dismissal damages owing to the former employee.”
COMMUNITIES OF FAITH
As for community members attending worship, General Council states that while it may be reasonable for Communities of Faith to implement mandatory vaccination policies, they will need to be mindful of the consequences and will need to give thought to accommodations where necessary. There are also significant privacy concerns that would need to be considered. Any policy that restricts access to a service needs to be reasoned and coherent, and would need to demonstrate why the policy is necessary and proportionate to mandatory requirements that it is imposing. In other words, if there are safe alternatives, or the requirement is not proportionate to the benefit, it may not be acceptable or advisable to have such a policy.
If you are a Community of Faith looking for assistance, please contact Jody Maltby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are an M&P Committee looking for support, please contact Dale Hildebrand (south of Highway 407) at email@example.com or Todd McDonald (north of Highway 407) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beyond the letter of the law, as people of faith, we are called to uphold the whole community and contribute wherever we can to well-being and safety. After such a long time of being apart, we understand the desire to come together for worship, but also the questions this coming together poses. It is important for Communities of Faith to assess for themselves when they are able to offer in-person worship safely.
We are mindful of all the ways communities of faith have continued to be the church, even while not being able to gather, and we continue to hold all of you in our prayers.
Shining Waters Regional Council Staff