Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) policy statement on COVID-19 vaccine mandates and proof of vaccine certificates

http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/news_centre/ohrc-policy-statement-covid-19-vaccine-mandates-and-proof-vaccine-certificates Sept 22, 2021

Here is what the OHRC says about vaccine certificates:

While receiving a COVID-19 vaccine remains voluntary, the OHRC takes the position that mandating and requiring proof of vaccination to protect people at work or when receiving services is generally permissible under the Human Rights Code (Code) as long as protections are put in place to make sure people who are unable to be vaccinated for Code-related reasons are reasonably accommodated.

The OHRC and relevant human rights laws recognize the importance of balancing people’s right to non-discrimination and civil liberties with public health and safety, including the need to address evidence-based risks associated with COVID-19.

Organizations must attempt to balance the rights of people who have not been vaccinated due to a Code-protected ground, such as a disability, while ensuring individual and collective rights to health and safety.

Regarding organizations not covered in the list of settings mandated by the province: Organizations that wish to mandate vaccines are encouraged to use the provincial proof of vaccine certificate with the written documentation showing medical inability to receive the vaccine as their way of meeting the duty to accommodate where needed.

Duty to accommodate for medical reasons:

Some people are not able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for medical or disability-related reasons. Under the Code, we have a duty to accommodate, unless it would significantly interfere with people’s health and safety.

This is why a written document, by a physician or a registered nurse/nurse practitioner stating they are exempt for a medical reason from being fully vaccinated is in place. The OHRC’s position is that exempting individuals with a documented medical inability to receive the vaccine is a reasonable accommodation within the meaning of the Code.

Here is a document created by a few physicians, pharmacists and scientists on what constitutes medical exemptions.

Personal preferences and singular beliefs are NOT protected:

The OHRC’s position is that a person who chooses not to be vaccinated based on personal preference does not have the right to accommodation under the Code.

The OHRC is not aware of any tribunal or court decision that found a singular belief against vaccinations or masks amounted to a creed within the meaning of the Code.

The duty to accommodate can be limited if it would significantly compromise health and safety amounting to undue hardship – such as during a pandemic.