Anti-vaccines have no right to shelter, says Ontario’s human rights watchdog

People who choose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to personal preferences or “unique beliefs” are not entitled to accommodations under Ontario human rights law, the province’s rights watchdog says.

The decision to get vaccinated is voluntary, and a “person who chooses not to get vaccinated based on personal preferences is not entitled to accommodation under the (Human Rights Code),” the Ontario Human Rights Commission said this week in a document. Politics. discuss vaccine mandate limits and proof of vaccination requirements.

While human rights law prohibits discrimination based on creeds: someone’s religion or a non-religious belief system that shapes their identity, worldview and way of life – Personal preferences or unique beliefs do not amount to a creed, the commission said, adding that “it is not aware of any court or judicial decision that determines that a unique belief against vaccines or masks equates to a creed in the sense Of code”.

Furthermore, even if someone can show that they have been denied service or employment because of their creed, “the duty to adapt does not necessarily require that you be exempt from the COVID vaccination, certification or testing requirements,” the commission said. “The duty to adapt may be limited if it significantly compromises health and safety amounting to undue hardship, such as during a pandemic.”

Ontario implemented its long-awaited vaccine certificate requirement on Wednesday, limiting access to indoor dining rooms, meeting spaces, gymnasiums, concert halls and more. Anyone wishing to enter these settings must show identification and proof that they have been fully vaccinated. Those who have been vaccinated can download their supporting documents online.

The plan of the province It has exceptions for those under the age of 12 (who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated) and anyone with a doctor’s note saying they have a valid medical reason why they can’t get vaccinated.

The commission is responsible for administering and enforcing Ontario’s human rights laws and is led by newly appointed Chief Commissioner Patricia DeGuire, who began a two-year term in August.

In its policy document, the commission explained that vaccination mandates and testing requirements are “generally permissible,” but must provide reasonable accommodations for people who are “unable to get vaccinated for reasons related to the Code,” such as a disability or a medical reason. The commission added that this standard would apply to any organization seeking to impose restrictions on vaccines.

Exempting people with medically documented reasons is a “reasonable accommodation,” the commission said.

Testing those who cannot get vaccinated against the virus is an “option” for organizations, and the costs must be covered as “part of the duty to adapt,” he said.

The commission also emphasized that restrictions that deny people access to employment or services for reasons protected by human rights laws may be acceptable, but should only be used for the “shortest possible” period of time.

“Such policies may only be justified during a pandemic. They should be periodically reviewed and updated to match the most current pandemic conditions and to reflect current evidence and public health guidelines. “

The commission also urged provincial and municipal governments to “take proactive steps to ensure that any enforcement of vaccination mandates or proof of vaccination policies does not disproportionately target or criminalize indigenous peoples, black communities, and other racialized communities, the homeless or those with mental health disabilities and / or addictions. “

Human rights complaints are handled at the provincial level by the Ontario Human Rights Court. Complaints about federally supervised organizations, such as banks, airlines, and the federal government, can be filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

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