Justice Centre to challenge Ontario government over vaccine passports

TORONTO, ONTARIO: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms today responded to the Ontario government announcing a new and unprecedented medical order meant to coerce Ontarians to receive Covid-19 vaccines.

In a press conference earlier today, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore, Health Minister Christine Elliot, and Premier Doug Ford stated that Ontarians are among the most vaccinated in the world, and Ontario has some of the “strongest” Covid related restrictions in the world. The new medical orders, sometimes referred to as “vaccine passports”, will apply to children as young as 12 years old and will expect private businesses designated as “non-essential”to deny service to those who have not been vaccinated with the Covid vaccine, which will be confirmed by a government-issued QR Code.

These new vaccine passport laws grant the government a plethora of power that can allow the Province to create similar and further far-reaching measures in the future. In today’s announcement, Dr. Moore threatened further venues may be added in the future. In Ontario, the government has now officially implemented a two-tier society where those who are not vaccinated will be severely stigmatized and prevented from accessing goods and services that Canadians are entitled to in a free and democratic society.

This vaccine passport was made possible by a far-reaching amendment to the regulations under the Reopening Ontario Act, which is the Act that now governs most Covid-19 related restrictions and mandates in the Province. This sweeping amendment was made on August 24, 2021 and provides the Chief Medical Officer with new extraordinary powers, including the power to require any organization, including churches and other places of worship, to deny service to the non-vaccinated.

“Vaccine passports are a blatant and unjustified violation of Charter rights and freedoms,” states Jorge Pineda, Staff Lawyer with the Justice Centre.

“These new regulations impact the choice that Ontarians have over their personal bodily autonomy, they stigmatize the unvaccinated, and they strip away the choice of business owners to decide how they wish to conduct their business,” continues Mr. Pineda.

The coming days and weeks will reveal how severely vaccine passports will be enforced. However, current enforcement of the Stage 3 regulation already suggests that enforcement is likely to be aggressive. The Chief Medical Officer already has the power to make private organizations enforce government mandated capacity limits, masking requirements, and social distancing requirements. Breaching of the regulations and continued orders of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act have in some cases resulted in crippling fines, business shut-downs, and other serious consequences for businesses and individuals who assert their Charter rights and freedoms in the face of these measures.

“The Justice Centre is deeply concerned about the increasing trend of authoritarian laws in the name of public safety, and is carefully reviewing the new laws and considering challenging these laws in court,” continues Mr. Pineda.

Section 7 of the Charter guarantees protection of “life, liberty and security of the person.” Coercing Ontarians to inject Covid vaccines which are still undergoing human trials, or submit to any other drug or medical treatment, interferes with bodily autonomy, an interest that is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The government continues to test the limits of Ontarians’ tolerance for the roll-back of their long- standing rights and liberties,” states Mr. Pineda. “However, Canadian laws protect individual liberty, and the pandemic did not change that. It will be up the Courts to decide whether the Charter’s protection of life, liberty and security of the person will ultimately triumph.”

Vaccine passports also violate the principles of equal treatment under the law protected under the Charter. Individuals who have not been vaccinated for a variety of reasons including religious belief, creed, and medical issues will now be segregated and their participation in society will become limited to what is deemed “essential” by the government.

In Canada, people have a right to decide what medical treatment they receive or do not receive. The Covid shots are new, and clinical trials will not be complete until 2023. As such, the Covid shots are experimental. Each of the shots also contain warnings from Health Canada, including warnings about pericarditis, myocarditis, and thrombosis. It is unthinkable that any government would require these experimental injections as a condition of full participation in society, yet this is what governments are doing.  The Justice Centre opposes this profound violation of peoples’ constitutional rights. Moreover, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated both spread Covid-19 in equal measure, as members of both groups carrying the same high viral loads when infected, according to data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Sayeh Hassan, a lawyer for the Justice Centre whose family fled Iran’s Revolution, states, “There is already enough fear, tension and division in our society.  Instead of bringing people together and attempting to alleviate the fear, the government has chosen to mandate further oppressive measures that will only serve to further divide and polarize Ontario.”

“We have seen the impact of segregation of certain factions of populations in history and how those incremental steps to segregate have led to the loss of freedom of many in those populations. This is a dangerous precedent to set in a free and democratic society where people are considered equal and protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” adds Ms. Hassan.