Canadian Constitution Foundation in court April 19-20 fighting BC’s vaccine passports

Canadian Constitution Foundation in court April 19-20 fighting BC’s vaccine passports

VANCOUVER: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is in court on April 19 and 20 challenging the BC government’s vaccine passport regime for its discriminatory impact on people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

“We are in court challenging the BC vaccine passport system because of the need for government to create a workable system of exemptions for people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn.

The BC vaccine passport policy has a closed list of exemptions and on its face (until amendments were introduced after court dates in this challenge were obtained) only permitted exemptions on an activity-by-activity basis. While the policy in no longer in force, the BC government has indicated the policy could be re-introduced if cases and hospitalizations rise again.

“Throughout this pandemic we have seen the government introduce, repeal, and reintroduce restrictions. Since it is the government’s position that there is nothing wrong with the vaccine passport policy that does not accommodate individuals with disabilities who cannot be vaccinated, we need to get judicial guidance on the constitutionality of this regime before it is re-introduced,” continued Van Geyn.

The CCF is working with several individuals on a challenge to the policy for failing to create adequate medical exemptions:
  • A teenage girl who developed heart inflammation after her first dose of a COVID vaccine. She is ineligible for a second dose.
  • A woman who developed nerve damage following her first dose of a COVID vaccine, leaving her arm partially paralyzed. She then became pregnant, and her neurologist advised her not to get a second dose, due to the risk of further nerve damage, including damage that could impact her unborn baby.
  • A woman who has complex and overlapping disabilities, has undergone approximately 15 surgeries, and who is contraindicated for numerous medications. Due to her complex medical situation and the lack of information about how the COVID vaccine may interact in the body of a person with her unique set of disabilities, and her past drug reactions, she is at heightened risk of a serious reaction to the vaccine.

“We are seeking a declaration that the BC vaccine passport policy is unconstitutional,” said Van Geyn. “There will never be a better opportunity than this one for the court to give guidance on the constitutional requirements for medical exemptions from a provincial vaccine passport program. It is extremely important for this case to be heard, even if the policy is no longer in force for now.”

The CCF is represented in this case by BC lawyer Geoffrey Trotter.

The written argument of the CCF and the three individuals is available here.