CALGARY: The Justice Centre has sent the City of Fredericton a demand letter in relation to its vaccinated-only policy at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market. The New Brunswick Government owns the landmark farmer’s market, and leases it to the City of Fredericton at a nominal rate. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies, because this is not private property, but property owned and managed by government.
The farmer’s market announced that as of December 11, 2021, “proof of double vaccination (or medical exemption) will be required to shop indoors, for all visitors 12 and over.” The policy, which is the first of its kind in Canada that excludes citizens from purchasing grocery essentials on the basis of vaccination status, claims that it relies on “public health guidelines.” There is growing national and international condemnation of such discriminatory policies.
On December 7, 2021 the Justice Centre sent a demand letter to the Minister of Justice of New Brunswick warning that the government’s new public health order of December 4, allowing private businesses to deny services to vaccine-free Canadians, was unconstitutional. The Order implicitly invites grocery stores to decide for themselves whether to require vaccination of customers as a condition for entry. The Justice Centre warning letter noted that the right to food is a fundamental human right enshrined in various international instruments including Article 25 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights amongst other human rights instruments.
“Our position remains the same in relation to any government denying or inviting private businesses to deny Canadians who have not taken the Covid vaccine to an essential service such as the purchase of food. Any such act is an unconscionable violation of the Charter and has no scientific or legal justification,” states Andre Memauri, staff lawyer at the Justice Centre.
“Vaccine-free citizens have a right to purchase food, including at markets and grocery stores, and the denial of such essential service is a reprehensible and unlawful act of cruelty and discrimination,” continues Mr. Memauri.
On December 14, 2021, three Members of Parliament representing New Brunswick constituencies, John Williamson, Rob Moore, and Richard Bragdon, released statements condemning the New Brunswick Government’s ‘winter action plan’ which gave retailers and grocery stores permission to refuse vaccine-free Canadians.
“These are violations of our Constitution that completely disregard our Charter rights and freedoms” says Mr. Memauri. “Depriving citizens of food at a market is shameful and it is good to see MPs are beginning to draw a line and also condemn this practice.”