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Top commander defends military’s vaccine requirement, says ‘tweak’ in the works


Canada’s top military commander says he will “tweak” vaccine regulations for the Armed Forces in the coming weeks but defended vaccine requirements as needed to keep the military ready to respond. deal with any emergency.

“This is an organization unlike any other because we have to be ready to go, we are the insurance policy of the nation,” Defense Department chief of staff General Wayne Eyre told The Canadian Press. in an interview.

“We have to go into dangerous locations and close restricted zones, we have to deploy overseas, where there is a potential increase in threat with the pandemic. We also don’t know the trajectory of the pandemic. this translation, where will it go in the future.”

When Eyre ordered all troops to be vaccinated against COVID-19 last October, he said it was to protect the force and “show leadership” as the Liberal government passed vaccination mandate across all federal public agencies.

Military duty persists when others fall

The public service vaccination mission was suspended in June but the military continued, a practice that has sparked many criticisms of the military’s policy.

The Department of Defense says more than 98% of the Canadian military has complied with orders. Defense Minister Anita Anand was informed in June that 1,137 people were still unvaccinated.

Those who refuse to be vaccinated face the risk of being forced out of the military. The ministry said 241 unvaccinated soldiers were removed with disciplinary measures starting against hundreds of others.

Eyre said he is trying to find the “sweet spot” between the medical, legal, operational and ethical requirements of the military.

“We need to maintain our ability to operate in the future,” he said. “So over the next few weeks we’re going to be adjusting the policy, we’re going to come up with something revised. But we also need to realize that this is a dynamic environment and things can change. change, the trajectory of the pandemic can change. So we also have to maintain that flexibility.”

Not only is the military called on to support communities across Canada affected by the pandemic, but vaccine requirements persist in many countries and allied and foreign militaries, he added.

The US military still requires all troops to be vaccinated as well as some NATO facilities and bases.

“There will be operational requirements when operating with allies, (vaccinations) are essential,” he said. “But as we move on, options are being developed based on the four factors I’ve talked about and finding the right balance.”

General Wayne Eyre said the Canadian military will soon adjust its COVID-19 vaccine policy. (Patrick Doyle / Canadian Press)

Eyre’s comments appear to contradict a draft revised vaccine policy obtained by Citizens of Ottawa last month, which proposes that vaccine requirements for military personnel be lifted.

The draft, which officials say has yet to be approved by Eyre, says service members and recruits will no longer have to certify their immunization status.

The document also notes potential legal difficulties ahead to deal with those expelled from the military for vaccination duty, suggesting they may be forced to re-enrol.

In contrast, other unvaccinated federal employees are placed on unpaid leave but are allowed to return to work when duties are suspended.

The policy has faced challenges

The military mission has been unsuccessfully challenged several times in Federal Court, most recently last month.

Phillip Millar, a lawyer based in London, Ont, who appeared in court to seek orders on behalf of unvaccinated service members, said the court ultimately decided it could not rule the matter. until the new policy is enacted.

Millar, who also represents James Topp, an army reservist accused of speaking out publicly against federal regulations while wearing the uniform, said he was disappointed with the decision due to the lack of deadlines. for the new policy.

“The military is deliberately pulling its foot in this new direction because they just want to kick people out,” Millar alleged, adding: “It’s clearly a political policy, not an operational policy. .”

Eyre would not say whether members of the Armed Forces would still be fired, or whether such releases have been suspended pending the results of his review.

The Department of Defense said there were more than 9,500 COVID-19 cases among service members, including 113 active cases as of August 1. The Department of Defense did not say if there were any deaths. related to this disease or not.



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