(File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Five moms among challengers to Ontario’s child vaccination law

Non-profit Vaccine Choice Canada claims law breaches right to freedom of conscience and religion

A group that includes five Ontario mothers is challenging the province’s child vaccination law, alleging it violates a number of constitutional rights.

The parents and the non-profit organization Vaccine Choice Canada allege the Immunization of School Pupils Act breaches the rights to freedom of conscience and religion and to liberty and security of the person, among others.

The law states that parents must ensure their children are vaccinated against a certain list of diseases unless they obtain a medical exemption.

Parents can also obtain an exemption if they sign a statement of conscience or religious belief, but as of 2017, they must first attend an information session on vaccination.

Under the law, children whose parents do not comply can be suspended from school on order from a medical officer of health.

The allegations have not been tested in court and the province has not yet filed a statement of defence, but a spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government is committed to ensuring a strong and effective immunization system.

“The Ministry of Health is continually evaluating the best available evidence to improve the uptake of vaccines, reduce risk of disease outbreaks and achieve better health for all Ontarians,” Hayley Chazan said in an email.

“We’re unable to comment further as this case is currently before the courts.”

READ MORE: Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

The group behind the challenge includes mothers who each have between two and five children, some of whom they allege have been barred from school due to their lack of vaccination.

One of the women, Amanda Moses, says two of her five children have experienced severe reactions to vaccines, prompting her to refuse vaccinations for the others.

Another, Theresa Jay Jean Flynn, says her children have been refused enrolment in school after she declined to sign the statement of conscience or religious belief.

In its statement of claim, the group alleges forcing parents to sign the document amounts to compelled speech and violates their rights by “posing a potential criminal liability.”

They particularly object to a part of the document that lists the dangers of not being vaccinated and tells parents that by signing, they are accepting responsibility for putting their child’s “health and even life at risk.”

The group also alleges the information sessions parents are required to attend if they seek an exemption on conscientious grounds “present a one-sided, distorted view of vaccination, without any information on the risks of vaccination to allow for an informed consent and basis to choose.”

RELATED: B.C. launches mandatory vaccine registry for schoolchildren

It further alleges that students who line up in school to receive vaccines are not told of the risks or screened for the “potential propensity to be injured by vaccines,” contrasting that with the care taken to accommodate deadly food allergies.

“While schools have taken saturated and heightened steps to make their spaces ‘nut-free,’ the risks of vaccines to children, particularly those who are predisposed to injury and death from them, are completely ignored,” the statement of claim reads.

The group, which is planning a rally at the Ontario legislature Tuesday, also says the threat of suspension, expulsion or refusal to enrol children whose parents don’t comply violates children’s right to education.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shawn Decaire does a blessing ceremony for the Hama?Elas Community Kitchen in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Hama?Elas Community Kitchen progress shared

Strategic planning, progress made on various projects also discussed at CRDCEH meeting

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
B.C. forestry companies agree to abide by cedar protocols drafted by Indigenous council

Western Forest Products and Interfor Corporation among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

Campbell River city council has given unanimous support to its mayor to continue the fight for the aquaculture industry on our coast. Black Press file photo
Campbell River city council unanimous in support of fish farms

‘I’m certainly not willing to roll over and accept a bad decision,’ says one councilor

(Black Press file photo)
One dead after single-vehicle accident in Campbell River yesterday

‘…we are hoping for a full recovery for both passengers,’ says RCMP

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Nursing staff at West Coast General Hospital celebrate the announcement of a $6.25-million expansion of the emergency department that will start in March 2021. (File photo)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read