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In a landmark decision, an Ontario labour board has ruled that a mandatory flu shot for workers is a serious invasion of their rights.

The decision upheld the right of tens of thousands of health care workers to refuse to comply with a mandatory flu shot as a condition of employment. CUPE lodged the grievance on behalf of 130 members working at St. Peter’s Health System, a chronic care geriatric facility in Hamilton.

The union argued that the hospital did not have the legal right to suspend nine workers who refused to comply with a mandatory flu vaccine. The arbitrators ruled that a forced flu shot infringes on an employees’ privacy rights and that the express consent of the worker is required or it is an assault of the person. This ruling will not have an immediate impact on Ontario paramedics who have been battling legislation that requires flu shots but it does give a boost to their campaign to repeal the legislation.