(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

Just Posted

CrossFit Ladysmith takes part in CF24 to raise funds for Special Olympics

CF24 puts participants through 24 CrossFit workouts over 24 hours

Updated – Firefighters contain Chilco Road garage fire in Crofton

About 15 Crofton and Chemainus Fire Department members on the scene

Flyers hockey program inducted into Sports Wall of Fame

Junior B teams attracted huge crowds in the early days of Fuller Lake Arena

Northbound lanes re-open along Malahat after small rockslide near Goldstream

Drivers asked to use caution, clean-up crews have finished on-site

Nearly 80 incredible artists, one extraordinary Vancouver Island tree

Bateman gallery’s OneTree 2019 honours the life of a single, tree salvaged from the Chemainus Valley

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperative breeding program

B.C. man gets life with no parole until 2042 for murder of Belgian tourist near Boston Bar

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Salvation Army kettle campaign targets $200,000 for Island residents in need

Goal is to raise $250,000 this year for Vancouver Island residents needing support

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchers

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Port Alberni rallies for mill workers

Fundraisers helping ease the sting of five months without work

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Most Read