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No mandatory vaccination policy for Yukon judges, court staff, but that could change in future

Wednesday, October 06, 2021 @ 2:10 PM | By Ian Burns

Courts in Yukon are not making a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for judges and court staff, but that may change down the road if circumstances in the territory warrant it.

In a response to inquiries from The Lawyer’s Daily, a joint media statement from the Supreme Court of Yukon and Yukon Territorial Court said they are not mandating, or in the process of developing, a policy on vaccinations “because we do not consider it necessary in the present circumstances.”

“However, a policy may be forthcoming in the event that there is a change in circumstances that makes this necessary to protect individuals within the court system,” the statement said. “We are constantly assessing the situation to determine whether changes need to be made. In the event that public safety is at risk of being compromised, we will make such changes as are required.”

The statement confirmed that both the Supreme Court and Yukon Territorial Court have asked judges and deputy judges if they wish to disclose their vaccination status and, if so, what their status is. Appeals from the territory are heard by judges of the B.C. Court of Appeal.

“We understand, through voluntary disclosure, that all our resident Supreme and Territorial Court judges, all of the Supreme Court deputy judges who have presided in the Yukon and most of our Territorial Court deputy judges are fully vaccinated,” the statement said. “We are asking our administrative and presiding Territorial Court justices of the peace the same question. We do not yet have any responses that state that a justice of the peace is choosing not to reveal their vaccination status, or responses that indicate that a justice of the peace is not fully vaccinated. We have not yet received all of the responses.”

The courts also said they not have a vaccination policy for non-staff public who enter the courthouse, including legal counsel, accused, litigants and witnesses, but is monitoring the situation in order to assess whether a policy should at some point in time be implemented to either allow individuals to voluntarily disclose proof of vaccination status prior to entry, or to otherwise comply with mask mandates, physical distancing, sanitizing and other protective measures that could be taken.

“Currently we require everyone entering into the court-user side of the courthouse to wear a mask, to maintain physical distancing to the extent possible, and to use sanitizer, unless, with respect to mask-wearing only, otherwise directed in the courtroom by the presiding judge,” the statement said. “We are complying with the specified requirements of each community that we attend for circuit court, which may include providing proof of vaccination status in order to attend in the community, on a case-by-case basis.”

There were 38 active cases of COVID-19 in Yukon on Oct. 5.

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