BC firefighter reinstated after Justice Centre demand letter

CELISTA, BC: The Justice Centre is pleased to announce that volunteer firefighter Craig Nygard has been reinstated to his position by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD). On April 28, 2022, the Justice Centre sent a legal warning letter to the CSRD, demanding that Mr. Nygard be accommodated in his request for a religious exemption from CSRD’s mandatory Covid vaccine policy.

The CSRD has reinstated Mr. Nygard on the condition he comply with weekly rapid-antigen testing for Covid.

At least 30 volunteer firefighters in the CSRD lost their positions due to their refusal to receive a Covid shot, and the district is experiencing a worker shortage. Charlene Le Beau, the Justice Centre lawyer representing Mr. Nygard, notes that communities rely on volunteer firefighters to keep their communities safe, and that a shortage of firefighters puts communities at risk.

Mr. Nygard requested an exemption from the mandate based on his religious beliefs, research and weighing of the vaccines’ benefits and risks, and the fact that he has naturally acquired immunity to Covid. Mr. Nygard conducted extensive research on the Covid vaccines and their associated risks, including severe allergic reactions and death. Health Canada has issued warnings on the vaccine labels for the conditions of myocarditis, pericarditis, blood clots, and Bell’s Palsy. To accept this medical procedure, he said, would violate his conscience and religious convictions.

While he considers the work he does as a firefighter an essential service to the community, he adds he is not willing to compromise his commitment to his faith. Mr. Nygard caught Covid during the summer of 2021 when he was away fighting forest fires as part of the CSRD team and now has natural immunity to Covid.

“Mr. Nygard is pleased that CSRD granted an exemption, and is hopeful the District either cancels the vaccine mandate altogether, or will grant exemptions to other firefighters who are unable to take a Covid vaccine for various legitimate reasons,” says Ms. Le Beau.

“The community is safer having Mr. Nygard back on duty, and will be safer still if the 30 members lost can resume their duties,” she concludes.