Justice Centre Expresses Concern about British Columbia’s Bill 36

Victoria, BC: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms today issued the following statement expressing its concern about the proposed Bill 36, which is about to go through 3rd reading in the Provincial Legislature:

Bill 36 contains provisions, which if enacted, will permit the Health Minister to appoint College Boards who must unilaterally establish vaccination requirements on all health practitioners for any illness the government deems requires vaccination, and to impose proof of up-to-date vaccination status as a condition of licensing. College registrars would be empowered to dismiss any application for licensing or renewal of license that does not contain proof of vaccination without notice or without a regulatory hearing. The legislation contains provisions that would allow the College to discipline any dissenters; those who speak out against the College policies or who fail to comply, with loss of license. It further enables the College to make “without notice” applications to the court to obtain orders of compliance, orders for entry into premises to search, seize or copy property, orders to secure premises and prevent an owner from entry, to order fines for non-compliance of up to $200,000, as well as to order jail time for up to six months if a healthcare worker is deemed to have made a false or misleading statement.

The passage of Bill 36 would enable the Health Minister to impose a Covid vaccine as a condition of licensing on all health practitioners in the province.

This proposed legislation encroaches on the common-law and statutory authority of self-governing professions, granted by the Health Professions Act of BC to govern themselves in the public interest. Bill 36 represents a significant departure from the independence of self-governing bodies. Such independence is crucial to the proper functioning of these professions, and to the optimal functioning of a democratic society.

The legislation represents an end run around democratic checks and balances. If the Health Minister wants to strip people of their right to personal medical autonomy, he ought to be up front with the health practitioners of British Columbia, and up front with the BC Legislature. Any provisions imposing vaccination as a condition of licensing ought to be submitted to the legislature in session, studied and debated and subjected to amendment, as is lawful and constitutionally required in a nation which requires democratic involvement in laws. This is especially true for laws that would have so profound an effect as to strip professionals of their ability to practice in their field and to provide for their families, unless they submit their bodily autonomy to the state. In passing Bill 36 into law, the BC Government would create a further service shortage in the already struggling BC healthcare system. This is about more than just practitioners and the government: the public will be harmed if Bill 36 is enacted.

BC lawyer Charlene Le Beau states: “The enactment of Bill 36 would evidence a further erosion of the rights and freedoms our Charter is supposed to protect, particularly individual liberty. As Aristotle posited, ‘The basis of a democratic state is liberty.’