The Justice Centre’s position is that the government should make the Covid vaccine available to Canadians who want it, starting with those who are the most vulnerable. That should be the end of their involvement in the personal health decisions of Canadians. To go further and threaten or mandate liberty restrictions on Canadians who decide not to receive such a vaccine is a violation of the rights to freedom of conscience and religion, mobility rights, and the right to liberty, and security of the person under the Charter.
What is the difference between forced vaccination and mandatory vaccination?
“Forced vaccination” means forcibly injecting citizens with a vaccine against their will. “Mandatory vaccination” means a legal requirement to be vaccinated, and to provide proof of vaccination. Failure to comply with the mandate could result in consequences, such as being prevented from attending events, holding certain employment, or receiving certain government benefits. Some provinces already require vaccines for children to attend public schools; however, there have always been exemptions available on medical, religious, or conscience grounds.
Can I be forced to get a vaccine?
Some provinces already have the power to make vaccines mandatory, or even forced. In Alberta, for example, legislation presently exists in the Alberta Public Health Act, section 38(1)(c), which authorizes the government to order anyone who is not immunized against an epidemic disease, or who can’t prove immunity to the disease, to be vaccinated. Anyone who refuses will be treated as though they are infected with the disease, and can then be subject to other measures, including being apprehended under a warrant and forced to accept “treatment” to make them non-infectious.
Alberta Health has confirmed its view that section 38(1)(c) does provide government with the power to order immunization or re-immunization for Albertans. The Alberta Government has indicated that it will remove this section from the Act, and the Justice Centre is carefully monitoring the Government’s actions to ensure that it does.
As of April 12, 2021, the Alberta government has introduced Bill 66 which, if passed, would repeal the power to mandate or force citizens to be vaccinated.
In some other provinces, governments are saying that the vaccine will not necessarily be forced, but there will be consequences for not taking it. Any proposal by government to coerce people to take vaccines against their will, through the threat of losing access to essential services, is concerning and should be challenged.
Is there a legal basis to refuse vaccination?
Canadians have the right to give their voluntary, informed consent to any medical treatment. Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guaranteed rights to liberty and security of the person cannot be denied except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. This gives us autonomy over choices that impact on our own physical or psychological integrity. When a requirement is overbroad, and interferes with liberty and security of the person in ways that bear no connection to its objective, then it can be said to be contrary to principles of fundamental justice.
Mandatory vaccines for everyone, regardless of their personal risk factors, age, prior infections, etc., are likely unconstitutional on that measure.
Is the Justice Centre anti-vaccination?
The Justice Centre is not pro- or anti-vaccination. We support letting people make decisions about their own health, and we are dedicated to the protection of constitutional rights in a free society. In a free country, individuals have the right to decide what is best for their own health. That includes being free to obtain and consider a wide range of information about all potential medical treatments and their benefits and risks, and having the right to make their own decisions accordingly— including saying no to a vaccine.
The Justice Centre is also opposed to governments imposing penalties on, or denying benefits to, those who refuse or are unable to receive a vaccination. This may be done through the direct implementation of a “vaccine passport”, or the requirement that any Canadian produce proof of a Covid vaccine to access government services, including health care and education.
What if my employer fires me if I will not get the COVID vaccine?
Legally, unless governments pass specific legislation requiring it, vaccination is a choice. At a minimum, religious and medical exemptions must be honoured in accordance with various human rights codes across the country, and you may wish to file an application to your provincial human rights tribunal if you are discriminated against on protected grounds. However, some employers may demand their employees to be vaccinated, and may even terminate those who refuse without religious or medical grounds. Where there is no basis to claim an exemption, that termination may be upheld. You may wish to consider suing your employer for wrongful dismissal, and will need to contact an employment lawyer to discuss the merits of your case. If your employer is a government entity, you may be able to raise Charter arguments as well, and can contact us if you face termination or other penalties in relation to a mandatory vaccination program with a government employer.
The Justice Centre supports and will defend the constitutional rights of individuals to refuse to be vaccinated. The decision to be vaccinated is a personal one and must remain so. Any cases we take will be subject to our discretion as to their appropriateness factually, legally, and strategically, and the Justice Centre can only take action against government, not private entities and companies.
Would a vaccine “immunity passport” violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
In the latest escalation of rights infringements, governments in Canada have announced they will proceed with vaccine passports, which would effectively mandate vaccination for Covid.
A government threatening or mandating liberty restrictions against Canadians who do not want a Covid vaccine would, in our view, be a violation of the section 7 right to life, liberty and security of the person, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Once established, the government would then have to prove that this serious rights infringement is demonstrably justified on a preponderance of evidence.
The Supreme Court of Canada, in a foundational case, established that in Canada freedom means the absence of coercion or constraint. If Canadian governments move to force or otherwise mandate vaccines, they need to be effectively and immediately challenged in court.
Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadians have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding their own bodies. The Charter also protects the fundamental freedoms of conscience and religion, and a Charter right to enter and leave their own country freely. Covid vaccine passports would violate all of these Charter protections.
Covid vaccines were rushed into production and are experimental. Given that the long term side effects are unknown, and that there are growing reports of injury and deaths linked to the shots, including blood clots, neurological damage, stroke, heart attacks, and paralysis, and given that many countries have paused or ceased using certain Covid vaccines as a result, only a tyrannical government would attempt to make travel contingent on receiving an experimental Covid vaccine. Further, it must not be forgotten that the government’s own data and statistics tell us that Covid is not the unusually deadly killer that it was made out to be in March 2020, when people were worried about this being like the Spanish Flu of 1918.
My child’s school has said they will give vaccines to children over a certain age without parental consent. What can we do?
The Justice Centre advises that for every child, both parents should sign a letter in writing to the school informing the school that they do not have consent to vaccinate their child, that any such medical decisions will be made after appropriate consultation by the parents with medical professionals, and that their child does not have the legal capacity to consent to this vaccination without his or her parents. The letter should warn that legal proceedings will be commenced against the school if they facilitate vaccination of the child against the consent of the parents.
Covid Vaccine Passports an urgent concern
The Justice Centre is concerned about the imposition of vaccine passports in Canada. Those Canadians who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated, who aren’t even at risk from this virus (especially children and young adults), or who have natural immunity from a prior infection, will all face unreasonable and unjustified restrictions on their civil liberties.
Not only is the survival rate from the virus over 99% for those under 65, but vaccine manufacturers claim that anyone who takes the vaccine will be fully protected from a severe outcome (hospitalization or death) from Covid. It is not, however, guaranteed that they will prevent someone from becoming infected and transmitting the virus to someone else, even after vaccination. It stands to reason that those opting for the vaccine should have no greater liberty rights than anyone else. Forcing people to show vaccine passports to access services or to move about freely creates a two-tier system where some people have their rights and freedoms while others are shut out from theirs.
Governments should make the Covid vaccines available to those who choose it, and that should be the end of their involvement in the personal health decisions of Canadians. To do otherwise is a violation of the rights to freedom of conscience and belief, mobility, and life, liberty and security of the person under the Charter. There is simply no rational basis for the infringement of these rights, and it sets a concerning precedent for government control over Canadians’ basic liberties for other reasons in the future.
The Justice Centre is monitoring the situation carefully and preparing to litigate the issue in the courts.