(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

Public tips lead to arrest in alleged random assault on Victoria bus

June 19 incident was recorded by onboard camera

Sidney asking tourists to respect health guidelines

Messaging says Sidney is ‘excited to welcome smart, safe, and respectful visits’

CRD explores option to use Oak Bay Lodge for people who are homeless

Motion asks staff to work with BC Housing, Island Health on possibilities

Plans for pot shop in Sidney spark back to life

Changing provincial regulations could clear the way for Sidney’s first ever pot shop

B.C. residents can go to the Royal BC Museum for half price all summer

Museum reopening in phases, COVID-19 measures in place

VIDEO: Victoria’s Raging Grannies call for end to public funding of for-profit senior homes

Organizer says COVID-19 has made senior home issues more apparent

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Most Read