A win for justice: health worker heads back to EI tribunal to have case heard

Civil liberties litigator James Kitchen has successfully appealed the employment insurance tribunal's attempt to summarily dismiss the claim of a healthcare worker who made a medical decision that ran contrary to the COVID regime.

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An Alberta Health Services worker will have her case heard by the appeal division after her employment insurance (EI) benefits were arbitrarily denied.

Civil liberties litigator James Kitchen has won the case to have his client’s appeal heard by the General Division of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada after the tribunal summarily denied to hear the case.

Kitchen’s client, Amanda Michaud, seeks justice for those affected by indiscriminate mandates after the government thrust risky medical procedures onto the general population through divisive and unethical policies like vaccine passports.

“Like thousands of AHS employees that were unceremoniously put on unpaid leave in the fall of 2021, she was as well,” explains Kitchen.

“Unpaid leave is the equivalent of being laid off. It means you don’t have a job, you’re not working, and you’re not being paid. It’s a fancy term for the same thing. Prior to COVID it was not lawful for your employer to tell you ‘you’re on unpaid leave now.’ We called that being laid off and you were not allowed to do that unless there was really no work for the employee.”

Yet thousands of employees were forced out of work due to noncompliance – being coined as misconduct – with a workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Kitchen details that the logical next step was to go to EI and apply for benefits.

Kitchen confirms that Michaud eventually went back to work when AHS lifted the vaccine mandate in 2022.

“But there was a period of time where she was not employed and she would have been entitled to EI benefits, had the commission followed the law,” proclaims Kitchen.

Instead, the Commission of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada denied Michaud’s claim and the General Division of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada dismissed her appeal without ever hearing it.

Kitchen says that this resulted in a failure of natural justice. Kitchen elaborates:

“One of the biggest aspects of natural justice is that you have the right to have your case heard – fully heard, fully decided. It’s not pre-decided or prejudged and kicked out before the decision maker even hears the arguments or the evidence, yet that’s what happened. When you have a case summarily dismissed, the decisionmaker is saying ‘I already know the way this will go, I’ve pre-judged it, I don’t need to waste my time. I can just decide without even hearing what you have to say.’”

The appeal division has now sent the claim back to the general division to be heard on its merits, in a win for justice.

Kitchen says decision makers like judges and lower decision makers are abusing summary dismissal to kick out cases that they don’t like politically, noting how fragile the rule of law is.

“All of these systems, no matter how great they are, they all depend on individual human beings being moral in their everyday lives and if they’re not, well – good-bye decent society.”

The process will see the general division set a hearing for sometime this summer and ideally issue a decision by the end of the year.

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