Legal Group to Challenge BC Vaccine Passport Mandate

Canadian Constitution Foundation says province must provide exemptions for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons
By Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
September 30, 2021 Updated: September 30, 2021

A legal advocacy group is launching a legal challenge against British Columbia’s vaccine passport system for failing to allow exemptions for individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

The province’s vaccine card system is unconstitutional because it doesn’t allow exemptions for those who suffered adverse effects from the vaccine or have complex medical conditions, said Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) Litigation Director Christine Van Geyn in a news release.

“Adverse reactions to a vaccine are rare, but they do happen,” Van Geyn said. “It is cruel and unconstitutional to add exclusion and isolation on top of physical trauma for a person who has had, or is likely to have, an adverse reaction.”

Van Geyn noted vaccination is a “much higher risk choice” for people who have had adverse reactions to their first dose of vaccine or have complex medical histories.

“For patients like these, they must make a deeply personal trade-off about their health,” she said.

“It is inappropriate for the government to try to force an outcome in one direction through policies like vaccine passports, which impose additional burdens on these already vulnerable people.”

Under the province’s vaccine mandate, British Columbians are required to show proof of having received two full doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to access certain public events, services, and businesses such as restaurants, bars, gyms, and some indoor venues. Post-secondary students also need to show their vaccine passports to apply for student housing.

These requirements are temporarily in place until Jan. 31, 2022, but could be extended, health authorities have said. The B.C. government has stated that there are no exemptions for people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

The CCF is compiling individual cases to include in its legal challenge of the policy. According to the CCF, the individuals include a teenage girl who developed heart inflammation after receiving her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and is ineligible for a second dose.

Another case is a pregnant woman who developed nerve damage after taking the first shot of the vaccine, leaving her arm partially paralyzed. Her neurologist has advised against a second dose, due to the risk of further nerve damage that could impact her unborn baby.

A communications director for the B.C. government said that medical exemptions are “very difficult decisions made by public health,” and that if individuals are unable to get vaccinated they can seek alternative services such as ordering delivery from restaurants instead of in-person dining.

“There will be an exemption process in place for extremely rare circumstances, involving a person’s doctor and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer. However, these instances will be extremely rare,” Aileen Machell told The Epoch Times in an email, adding that the Provincial Health Officer has published guidelines to support physicians when a patient requests a medical exemption for a COVID-19 vaccine.

A list of valid contraindications and deferrals to COVID-19 vaccination was sent to physicians earlier this month from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., a regulator for the practice of medicine in the province.

The CCF has said their legal filing will request the provincial government create “categorical exemptions” for certain medical conditions. It will also request an accessible process for patients and their doctors to obtain a medical exemption that does not require public health approval for individuals with unique conditions.

“Our hope is that the government acquiesces and makes the process of obtaining medical exemptions simpler and easier,” said B.C. lawyer Geoffrey Trotter, who is representing the CCF in the case.

“The individuals who need medical accommodation are already facing enough challenges in their daily lives, the government shouldn’t be making their lives even harder,” Trotter said in the news release.

Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.