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TORONTO – An injunction has been filed on behalf of North Bay paramedic Bill Kotsopoulos to have him return to work until the Supreme Court has determined the constitutional status of the mandatory flu shot. Mr. Kotsopoulos is willing to agree to very stringent safety protocol to satisfy his employer’s concerns.

There is currently a challenge filed by CUPE Local 416 to the constitutionality of the mandatory flu shot for paramedics, which is likely to be heard in Superior Court in the next six months. Some ambulance services have not fully enforced the flu shot Regulation, pending the conclusion of this constitutional challenge.

“There is a staffing crisis at the North Bay Ambulance Service,” said Helen Fetterley of the Ontario Council of Hospitals Union at a Queen’s Park press conference. “This creates the potential for irreparable harm to the safety of those who may require ambulance services in North Bay. That is why we are simultaneously filing an injunction and offering Mr. Kotsopoulos’ assurances that he will follow stringent health protocols.”

“It is in everyone’s interest to get Mr. Kotsopoulos back to work.”

Mr. Kotsopoulos believes that his right to consent to a medical injection should be no different than that of a member of the general public.

“Any member of the public can make a choice each year whether or not to get the flu shot, measured against his or her general health and perceived susceptibility to infection or adverse reaction,” said Mr. Kotsopoulos in a statement. “Any member except a paramedic.”

On December 28, 2001, Mr. Kotsopoulos filed a grievance under his Collective Agreement, claiming his suspension was without just cause.

Bill is a member of CUPE Local 139. On his behalf, CUPE has asked the hospital to proceed with this matter on an expedited basis, and has asked that Bill be returned to work pending the resolution of this grievance.

Since the grievance was filed, there has been no meeting between the parties regarding the grievance.

Mr. Kotsopoulos has advised his employer that, until the validity of his suspension or the constitutionality of the flu shot Regulation is determined, he is willing to return to work. He will take extraordinary precautions against the potential transmission of the influenza virus by wearing a mask and gloves at all times when attending to an ambulance call. And if he should develop flu symptoms, he will not participate in the direct assessment of or provision of patient care…but there have been no serious influenza outbreak on a wide scale in North Bay since the end of last year’s flu season.

For more information, please contact:
Helen Fetterley, Secretary-Treasurer, OCHU
Mike Dick, Chair, CUPE Ontario Ambulance Committee
905-431-3990 or 905-430-2495