A Muslim worker denied an exemption from the 2021 COVID-19 vaccine mandates over his religious beliefs will have his case heard by a federal labour board.According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the department of Indigenous Services declined the request because the vaccines “do not contain any gelatin, pork derivatives or human particles.”“Since the grievance involves allegation of a breach of the duty to accommodate on the basis of religion and a loss of salary, the impact on the applicant of not having her case heard would be significant,” wrote Patricia Harewood, adjudicator with the Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.The Board will hear the case of a Muslim dentist suspended without pay because he did not show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.Assistant Deputy Minister Keith Conn said in a letter that workers cannot just choose to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine because of personal choice.“The information you submitted failed to establish a clear link between the COVID-19 vaccines and your religious beliefs and practices,” wrote Conn.“What you have asserted to is a set of choices that support your personal beliefs that do not appear to be based on religion. You did not demonstrate the need for accommodation based on religious beliefs.”“COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any gelatin, pork derivatives or human particles,” wrote Conn. He did not elaborate.Federal managers enforcing vaccine mandates were advised to observe a 2004 Supreme Court ruling, Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, that “the state is in no position to be, nor should it become, the arbiter of religious dogma.” The ruling came in the case of Orthodox Jews in Montréal accused of breaching condo bylaws by erecting “succahs” or decorative temporary shelters on their balconies.Religion “is about freely and deeply held personal convictions or beliefs connected to an individual’s spiritual faith and integrally linked to one’s self-definition and spiritual fulfillment,” wrote the Court. Judges wrote that it was not merely “some sort of religious obligation” or compliance with a literal directive from a religious leader.Data from the Treasury Board, which was tabled in Parliament, showed that a high proportion who asked to skip the vaccine for religious reasons were denied.Out of 2,042 federal workers who asked for a special exception because of their spiritual beliefs, only 540 received approval. That's about 26%.Requests for exemptions were “addressed on a case-by-case basis while ensuring privacy and confidentiality,” said the Treasury Board. The Treasury Board said each department and agency is in charge of enforcement.An internal October 6, 2021, Treasury Board memo said managers “must be satisfied the employee holds a sincere religious belief” in considering a religious waiver. “How does a manager decide whether to approve accommodation for religion? The manager must be satisfied the employee holds a sincere religious belief that prevents them from being fully vaccinated,” said the memo Managers’ Toolkit for the Implementation of the Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination for the Core Public Administration Including the RCMP.