BakerLaw Statement on Vaccine Equity Court Decision
- May 5, 2021
On behalf of our client, David Daneshvar, Bakerlaw is demanding the Doug Ford government immediately institute a vaccine equity strategy following today’s Ontario Divisional Court ruling. While today’s Court ruling stopped short of finding the government was infringing on its Charter obligations due to concerns about jurisdiction, it notes the case is being dismissed “not because the underlying issues are without any merit.” The ruling goes on to note that, “There is nothing frivolous and vexatious about the issue of vaccine equity in the context of a global deadly pandemic.”
The government has neglected its duty to provide fair and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines. For months, it has been clear the government had the scientific evidence but lacked the will to design a vaccine strategy that prioritized and protected the most vulnerable among us. Evidence presented in court and recent stories in the media demonstrated this issue was not going away on its own. Repeated failures have increased the risk of infection and death for some people with disabilities, those experiencing poverty and homelessness, racialized communities, and seniors who are homebound or on the wrong side of the digital divide.
The Court hearing demonstrated that the government had few plans to vaccinate those who had no internet, or phone or faced language, mobility, or communications challenges. Furthermore, there was originally little planning for dealing with vaccine hesitancy in historically repressed communities. As a result, Ontarians who should have been vaccinated months ago are still waiting for the jab and the province’s ICUs are bursting with patients.
It is time to finally do the right thing by all Ontarians. The Province needs to acknowledge its responsibility for equity for the vaccine roll out. Health Minister Christine Elliott should do the following 1) provide clear direction to all vaccine administering entities to undertake an equity approach to vaccine distribution – including the necessary accommodations; 2) begin a clear process of effective data collection; 3) ensure sufficient resources are available to achieve 1 and 2. It is time to end the indignity and stop risking the potentially deadly consequences of inequitable vaccine access.
We thank Mr. Daneshvar for his courage and salute all the health providers and equity advocates who contributed to this case and are fighting for fair access to vaccines. Stay tuned for what comes next. As the Court acknowledges, Mr. Daneshvar “may have a valid claim against Ontario, a public health unit, a pharmacy, or even all three.”
The Court’s decision can be accessed here (link).
For more information or to schedule an interview with David Baker, Bakerlaw, health policy experts, or affected populations, please contact: