Canada: Passports and vaccination policies are there to protect you. The Ontario Human Rights Commission agrees.
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Over the past few months, we have seen a number of provinces implementing various procedures requiring individuals to provide proof of vaccination, as well as companies implementing mandatory vaccination policies. In British Columbia, by order of the Provincial Health Officer, proof of vaccination is required to access a number of non-essential events, services and businesses. Right now, a person must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and by October 24, a person must be fully immunized to get their vaccination passport.
There is currently both strong support and opposition to proof of immunization requirements and mandatory immunization policies. Many oppose the demands on the grounds that they infringe an individual’s human rights. On September 22, 2021, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released a statement that more positively supports the ability of Ontario employers to impose vaccination policies on their employees.
The key part of the statement reads as follows:
While receiving a COVID-19 vaccine remains voluntary, the OHRC believes that requiring and requiring proof of vaccination to protect people at work or when receiving services is generally permitted under the Code of human rights (Code) as long as protections are in place. to ensure that people who cannot be vaccinated for Code reasons are reasonably accommodated. This applies to all organizations.
Respecting individual human rights while trying to collectively protect the general public has been a challenge throughout the pandemic. Organizations should attempt to balance the rights of people who have not been vaccinated due to a Code protected ground, such as disability, while ensuring individual and collective rights to health and safety.
This statement is only a guide; it does not have the legal force and effect of a court or tribunal decision, or of a law. It also originates from Ontario, a legal jurisdiction separate from British Columbia. However, it is notable for employers in British Columbia because it could indicate which direction the wind is blowing. Employers will recall that in July, the British Columbia Human Rights Commission (as opposed to the Ontario Human Rights Commission) issued the following much more daunting guidance for British Columbia employers: :
Ultimately, it is the position of BC Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender that duty holders can under certain circumstances implement a vaccination status policy such as a requirement for proof of vaccination, but only if other, less intrusive means of preventing transmission of COVID-19 are inadequate for the setting and due consideration is given to the human rights of all concerned.
Lawyers and employers in British Columbia can only speculate on the applicability of vaccination policies and vaccination evidence for private employers until binding guidelines are issued in British Columbia, but the decision of the Ontario’s human rights commissioner taking a tougher approach cannot be taken as a negative sign for employers. consider implementing proof of vaccination or mandatory vaccination policies.
Passports and vaccination policies are there to protect you. The Ontario Human Rights Commission agrees.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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