TORONTO: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is filing a legal challenge to the BC vaccine passport regime and its discriminatory impact on people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
“The BC vaccine passport system is discriminatory on its face, because it does not include automatic exemptions for people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn.
The BC vaccine passport policy restricts entry to certain public spaces only to people who can prove they have received two doses of a COVID vaccine. The government has repeatedly stated that there are no medical exemptions, and that people who cannot be vaccinated for a medical reason should stay home.
The CCF is working with several individuals on a challenge to the policy for failing to create medical exemptions:
- A teenage girl who developed heart inflammation after her first dose of a COVID vaccine. She is ineligible for a second dose.
- A woman who developed nerve damage following her first dose of a COVID vaccine, leaving her arm partially paralyzed. She is now pregnant, and her neurologist has advised her not to get a second dose, due to the risk of further nerve damage, including damage that could impact her unborn baby.
- A woman who has complex and overlapping disabilities, has undergone approximately 15 surgeries, and who is contraindicated for numerous medications. Due to her complex medical situation and the lack of information about how the COVID vaccine may interact in the body of a person with her unique set of disabilities, and her past drug reactions, she is at heightened risk of a serious reaction to the vaccine.
“Adverse reactions to a vaccine are rare, but they do happen. It is cruel and unconstitutional to add exclusion and isolation on top of physical trauma for a person who has had, or is likely to have, an adverse reaction,” said Van Geyn. “For some patients, the fact is that the vaccine is a much higher risk choice than it is for a perfectly healthy person. For patients like these, they must make a deeply personal trade-off about their health. It is inappropriate for the government to try to force an outcome in one direction through policies like vaccine passports, which impose additional burdens on these already vulnerable people” continued Van Geyn.
The first step in the CCF’s challenge to the BC vaccine passport is a request for a reconsideration of the current regime under the public health orders dated September 10 (here and here). Existing case law* requires using the administrative route to challenge the order before proceeding to a court for relief. The CCF will be requesting that the government create categorical exemptions for certain medical conditions rather than forcing future individuals to go through a time consuming and complicated reconsideration in the future, and an accessible process for patients and their doctors which does not require public health ‘approval’ for those in unique circumstances to access a medical exemption.
The CCF is represented in this case by BC lawyer Geoffrey Trotter.
“Our hope is that the government acquiesces and makes the process of obtaining medical exemptions simpler and easier. The individuals who need medical accommodation are already facing enough challenges in their daily lives, the government shouldn’t be making their lives even harder” said Trotter.
* View the CASE Law Here
September 27, 2021
TORONTO: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is preparing to litigate over the British Columbia government’s discriminatory vaccine passports. The CCF has written to the provincial government to ask them to end the policy. The BC government confirmed again today that the policy will include no exemptions for people who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons.
In a letter addressed to the BC Premier, Minister of Health, Attorney General, and Provincial Public Health Officer, the CCF has outlined concerns regarding the section 15 and section 7 Charter rights of people in BC. In particular, the letter outlines concerns about the failure of the vaccine passport policy to accommodate individuals who are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons.
“The BC vaccine passport policy restricts access to certain public spaces to only people who are fully vaccinated. There are many people in BC, and indeed across Canada, who wish they could be vaccinated but cannot be because of a medical condition,” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn.
In the letter to the BC government, the CCF outlines the stories of two BC residents who developed adverse reactions following their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Those reactions included neurological symptoms and a condition called brachial neuritis.
“I’ve spoken to people who have had serious adverse reactions to the vaccine. Who have complex anaphylaxis, blood clotting disorders, auto-immune disorders, and pre-existing heart conditions, like pre-existing heart inflammation. Some of these people use public spaces like gyms and pools as a regime of therapy for their disability, and the vaccine passport is restricting their ability to care for their health,” said Van Geyn. “For these patients, both the vaccine and COVID may present a higher risk than it does for a healthy person. They must make difficult and deeply personal trade-offs about their health. It is inappropriate for the government to try to force an outcome in one direction through policies like vaccine passports,” continued Van Geyn.
“The BC vaccine passport discriminates against people on the basis of their disabilities by denying them access to public spaces. The government has refused to make this accommodation, and we are now taking steps to litigate,” concluded Van Geyn.
You can read the CCF’s letter to the BC government here.
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