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EI wrong to deny benefits to man who refused COVID shot, rules SST

Constitutional lawyers say that the government failed to prove that Timothy Conlon committed misconduct in not getting the COVID shot.  

OTTAWA – The Social Security Tribunal ruled that Service Canada was wrong to deny a man EI benefits for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The SST found that the government failed to prove that Timothy Conlon committed misconduct in not getting the COVID shot.  

“The Justice Centre will continue to pursue legal challenges to the denial of EI benefits to Canadians based on their personal medical decisions,” said Marty Moore, a lawyer with Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.   

“The government’s treatment of Mr. Conlon and other vulnerable Canadians on the basis of their personal medical decisions has been a gross abuse of their bodily autonomy and constitutional rights.”

Conlon worked as a delivery driver in the Toronto area, providing direct delivery of personal care items to homes. He delivered sealed packages to peoples’ homes, buzzed the doorbell and departed, said Moore.

“He had little, if any interaction, with customers. Mr. Conlon was an exemplary employee with no complaints against him.”   

Despite this, his employer demanded that he get the COVID shots. Conlon expressed concerns about his existing high blood pressure and the reports of some individuals getting blood clots after taking the shots, said Moore.

“When Mr. Conlon said he wasn’t going to get the shots, his boss told him not to come back to work.”

Conlon was immediately thrown into financial crisis, which was compounded when Service Canada denied his claim for Employment Insurance benefits. He was unable to afford the purchase of a transit pass, and he relied on friends to chip in to cover his payments for shared rental accommodation,” said Moore.

The Social Security Tribunal (SST) is an independent administrative tribunal that makes decisions on social security appeals. They hear appeals for EI benefits, CPP benefits, CPP, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits.

In October 2021, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said those losing their jobs for not complying with employer COVID-19 vaccine policies won’t be eligible for employment insurance (EI).

In a June letter, lawyers from the JCCF warned federal Minister Qualtrough that her Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion was acting illegally and in violation of Charter rights by denying EI benefits to Canadians fired for not taking the COVID-19 vaccines.

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