CUPE Withdraws Grievance for Unvaccinated Ottawa Hospital Staff on Unpaid Leave

An Ontario branch of CUPE has reportedly withdrawn a grievance filed on behalf of unvaccinated Ottawa Hospital staff who were placed on unpaid leave.
CUPE Withdraws Grievance for Unvaccinated Ottawa Hospital Staff on Unpaid Leave
The Emergency Department entrance at the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus in Ottawa is shown on May 16, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)
Andrew Chen

An Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has reportedly withdrawn a grievance filed on behalf of 186 employees of The Ottawa Hospital placed on unpaid leave on Nov. 1, 2021, due to their COVID-19 vaccination non-compliance.

The letter was allegedly from CUPE's national representative Adam Cotsman, whose name and title were printed at the closing. A photo of the letter has been posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

CUPE Local 4000 explained that as it readied itself for labor arbitration proceedings, the union had instructed its legal counsel to furnish a legal opinion regarding the prospects of success.

"Unfortunately, the Legal Opinion doesn't support pursuing this grievance," Mr. Cotsman said in his letter. "This is one reason we're withdrawing the grievance." The union did not specify any other reasons for its retraction.

The Epoch Times has obtained additional photographs of similar letters from CUPE 4000 directed to two other individuals. In one of the letters, dated Sept. 11, 2023, the name and title of CUPE's executive chief steward, Andrew Skinner, were printed at the end. The other letter, sent on Sept. 8, displayed the name and title of Mr. Cotsman.

An individual connected with The Ottawa Hospital told The Epoch Times in an email on Sept. 18 that the CUPE's letter had been distributed to several hospital employees. The person requested anonymity due to concerns related to a pending lawsuit.

"Sadly, those who got this letter are too tired or mentally done and won't put up a fight," the source said.

The Epoch Times contacted the hospital to confirm the current status of the unvaccinated employees placed on unpaid leave but didn't immediately hear back.

Effective Nov. 1, 2021, The Ottawa Hospital announced that all employees, medical staff, and learners must have received full vaccination with a COVID-19 shot approved by the World Health Organization. This was a requirement for continued employment and credentialing at The Ottawa Hospital.

Those who were not fully vaccinated were deemed "non-compliant with the COVID-19 vaccine policy and placed on an unpaid leave of absence," the hospital said on its website.

CUPE Local 4000 said in its letter that in response to The Ottawa Hospital's announcement, it filed a grievance on behalf of all affected employees. The union acknowledged significant hurdles in contesting this policy due to hospitals' special authority to enforce mandatory vaccinations for various healthcare individuals. This authority was granted through a COVID-19 Directive by the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health on Aug. 17, 2021.

The Directive was retracted as of March 14, 2022, according to an Ontario Ministry of Health memorandum.

The Epoch Times reached out to CUPE Local 4000 for comment but didn't immediately hear back.