TORONTO, ON: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is raising concerns about the constitutionality of mandatory mask orders that have been imposed or contemplated in municipalities across Ontario.
“We are concerned that communities like Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph are imposing mandatory mask orders that are too broad and violate Charter guaranteed rights to liberty, the right against discrimination based on disability, and the right to privacy. Orders like these must be narrowly tailored so that both the safety and the rights of Canadians are protected,” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn.
The CCF has released a letter that has been sent to the Medical Officer of Health in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Region. The letter outlines the CCF’s concerns as well the ways that the mandatory mask order can be amended to be Charter compliant. The letter outlines three considerations communities must make when imposing a mandatory mark order.
First, the CCF letter outlines that mandatory mask orders must provide a medical exemption for people who cannot wear a mask because of a physical or mental disability. The exemption must make it clear that a claims for the exemption must be taken at face value.
“There are people who cannot wear a mask due to a respiratory illness or a psychological trauma associated with having a breathing obstruction. For obvious reasons, if a person has PTSD related to having their breathing obstructed, they should not need to discuss this with strangers in order to buy toilet paper or fill up their gas tank,” continued Van Geyn.
Second, the CCF letter outlines that mandatory mask orders cannot be arbitrary or disproportionate.
“Mandatory mask orders are on their face a violation of individual liberty. The Orders should only apply where six feet of social distancing is not possible, and the fines should be proportionate. Fining a grocery store $5,000 for failing to enforce a mask order is arbitrary and disproportionate when hospitals don’t require face masks, and when the fine for opening a business in the peak of pandemic was $750,” concluded Van Geyn.
CCF is currently preparing letters for other communities in Ontario where mandatory masks have been ordered or contemplated, like York Region, Kingston, and Waterloo.
The original version of this release can be found here.