vaccine COVID

Can condos demand COVID-19 vaccination?

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Canada is slow to administer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but condo communities are already beginning to consider some complex issues related to vaccination.

Some of these concerns were addressed during a Condo Advisor webinar—for instance, can corporations demand staff get vaccinated, or can owners who receive vaccines be allowed to access amenities? More clarity will likely come as the situation evolves, but here is the general consensus for now.

Can vaccinated owners demand access to condo amenities?

Researchers are unsure of whether the immunization reduces the risk of someone carrying and transmitting COVID-19. That said, amenities should remain closed until it is safe to do so. “Once it is, you can deal with the protocols of whose had a vaccination, but you really need to wait,” said condo lawyer Denise Lash of Lash Condo Law.

Allowing certain people to access amenities could also create what Josée Deslongchamps of DES Services calls, a concerning “subclass of people in the building.”

“You’re going to create some discrimination—who has been (vaccinated) and who hasn’t,” she said. “The ins and outs and all that kind of stuff, you don’t want to go there. Open for everyone or close for everyone.”

Can condos require vaccination from owners?

For now, condo corporations cannot impose vaccinations until it is mandated by the government, advised Lash, stating the many reasons why people can’t enforce vaccinations, whether it remains an issue of religion or human rights. Another point to consider is how property managers will keep track of who is vaccinated.

Condo lawyer Rod Escayola, of Gowling WLG, pointed out the discussion around requiring vaccination in condos is a bit premature at the moment. Vaccines are not yet widely available to the general population and there remains uncertainty about the life cycle of vaccine-induced immunity.  He also noted that only three provinces—Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba—currently mandate vaccines in general, such as vaccines required by public schools.

When it comes to requesting vaccination of staff and contractors there is no “clear answer yet,” he added, referring to flu-vaccine related legal cases of the past, where management in certain healthcare facilities extended the option to staff and nurses to get vaccinated or wear a mask during flu season. “Some cases came back where they said as long as it is supported by evidence and as long as you’re providing staff with options—mask or vaccinate. Some provinces have upheld them. Other provinces have not upheld them and have concluded that as long as it is un-mandated you probably cannot impose that.”

Should condo corporations get involved with immunization campaigns?

Should corporations set up a vaccination clinic in the amenity room?

“Normally, I’d say stay in your lane, but on this one I’ve been convinced otherwise and that’s because I’ve been dealing with a lot of attorneys in the U.S.— in particular the state of Florida, where they have huge homeowner associations,” said Lash, who doesn’t see an issue with facilitating such a program.

In these types of communities, getting the vaccine to residents would only be attainable in large groups, she noted. A corporation contemplating a future immunization campaign is advised to call its insurer. “You’ll want to make sure that you’re insured and then find out, from whoever is providing it, whether they require anything from the condominium corporation— usually an indemnity and release.”

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