(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

Haida Gwaii libraries resume inter-branch deliveries

Users can once again access materials from entire Vancouver Island Regional Library system

Masks mandatory in Old Massett as Haida Gwaii COVID cases total 26

Old Massett Village Council says curfew will be enforced with community service

All-Islands Protocol Table working to restore Haida place names

List of 12 priority names created; Queen Charlotte, Port Clements councils vote to support changes

B.C. premier ‘not going to be apologetic’ about closure of Haida Gwaii fishing lodges

Horgan says ‘public health takes the priority’ over business in implementation of travel restriction

B.C. mogul sells private Naikoon properties to parks system in $1 million deal

NIHO founder Rudy Nielsen sells 320 acres to BC Parks; Ministry statement expected in ‘coming months’

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Most Read