OHRC releases policy statement on vaccine mandates

  • September 27, 2021
  • Amanda Dimilta
  • Comments Off on OHRC releases policy statement on vaccine mandates

On September 22, 2021, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released its statement regarding the Ontario government’s requirement that residents provide proof of full vaccination to access certain public settings, specifically higher risk indoor facilities.

The OHRC states that the mandate is generally permissible under the Ontario Human Rights Code (link), as long as those who cannot be vaccinated are reasonably accommodated.

An exemption may be provided for medical reasons, and would require a written document by a qualified medical practitioner (MD, RN(EC), or NP) confirming same.

The OHRC makes it clear that personal preferences and singular beliefs do not trigger a duty to accommodate under the Code, as singular beliefs do not amount to creed, a protected ground under the Code:

“Even if a person could show they were denied a service or employment because of a creed-based belief against vaccinations, the duty to accommodate does not necessarily require they be exempted from vaccine mandates, certification or COVID testing requirements. The duty to accommodate can be limited if it would significantly compromise health and safety amounting to undue hardship – such as during a pandemic.”

Importantly, the OHRC statement points out barriers to vaccination exist, including language, disability, employment status, housing status, medical-mistrust, and caregiving responsibilities.

Finally, the OHRC urges organizations to ensure any enforcement of the vaccine requirements does not disproportionately target Indigenous or BIPOC individuals, people experiencing homelessness, or people with mental illnesses and/or addictions.

You can read the full statement from the OHRC here (link).

Bakerlaw has extensive experience representing individuals with human rights complaints at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. We’ve assisted clients in securing accommodations at school, including post-secondary, as well as securing disability accommodation at their workplace. For more information on our services, click here (link).

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