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Psychiatrist welcomes judge's decision on COVID-19 vaccinations

Dr. David Morgan praises finding that Provincial Health Officer should reconsider power to make vaccines mandatory for healthcare workers who work remotely
Covid-19 vaccine economy chart

A psychiatrist who lost his job at the Prince George Youth Forensic Clinic because he refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 says a judge's finding that the Provincial Health Officer should reconsider her power to order healthcare workers who work remotely to get the jab has left him "extremely grateful."

Reached Thursday, Dr. David Morgan was reluctant to call B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Coval's decision a win because "the difficulty we've got in society is there are fractures and divisions everywhere, and a lot of that comes down to the language we use." 

He praised Coval's sense of "proportionality" in the decision, issued May 10,

Morgan was among 14 healthcare workers who turned to the court to challenge the reasonableness of the PHO's two orders of Oct. 5, 2023 which continued the orders making vaccines mandatory that had been in place for two years.

Coval dismissed as unfounded three grounds petitioners variously put forward:

- that by October 2023, the virus no longer posed “an immediate and significant risk” and so the PHO's emergency powers no longer applied;

-  that the scientific record no longer indicated that unvaccinated healthcare workers posed any greater risk to vulnerable patients, or the healthcare system generally, than vaccinated workers;

- that the orders violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by forcing them to choose between adherence to their fundamental religious and personal beliefs about vaccination, or keeping their jobs in their chosen professions.

But Coval found making the vaccine mandatory for healthcare workers who worked remotely or held purely administrative positions lacked justification given their lack of contact with vulnerable patients or the healthcare workers who care for them.

Morgan's deposition was one of eight Coval cited in support of his conclusion: “100% of the assessment, management, and treatment of my patients virtually which eliminated any risk of transmission of the virus … When I questioned the basis for [my termination], I was informed that … I might be asked to see a patient in-person in the future, despite the fact that I had not done so for an extended period of time, and that it is simply not necessary in my practice.” 

When he was terminated from the position in December 2021, Morgan had been providing the service on a contract basis for eight years. He was also the regional clinical director for northern British Columbia, where he participated in establishing goals for the Ministry’s Youth Forensic Psychiatrist Services.

"I was working remotely (through videoconferencing) prior to the pandemic," Morgan said Thursday. "As you know, Prince George has difficulty attracting and retaining medical professionals.I was a subspecialist physician...What can I say, right? It the guy has done the thing remotely and there was no issue, why terminate him?"

Morgan said he won't be seeking damages from the provincial government for lost wages.

"That wasn't the purpose of this," Morgan said. "What good would that serve? That would take money out of the taxpayer's pocket which could be better directed to positive outcomes."

Morgan called the PHO's decision to terminate him a "shock" but he has since landed on his feet. He now works in private practice and is a clinical assistant professor in UBC’s Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry.

"I'm better off. My income's gone up markedly," he said.