NB Government, Farmers Market Back Down on Vaccination Proof at Grocery Stores: Legal Group

By Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
December 18, 2021 Updated: December 19, 2021

The New Brunswick government and a farmers market in Fredericton have backed down on a COVID-19 measure that allows grocery stores to deny entry to unvaccinated Canadians after being warned of legal action, a non-profit legal organization says.

“Today the Government of New Brunswick and the City of Fredericton have corrected their vaccination policies in relation to grocery sales to accord with the Charter and Human Rights legislation and this is a positive step,” Andre Memauri, staff lawyer at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, said in a statement on Dec. 17.

On Dec. 7, the Justice Centre sent a warning letter to New Brunswick’s Minister of Justice and Public Safety Hugh Flemming in regard to a “revised COVID-19 mandatory order” he signed on Dec. 4 that allowed private businesses the option to request vaccination proof.

The order stated that owners and occupiers of premises where proof of vaccination is not mandatory by law are “free to choose between making proof of vaccination a requirement of entry to their premises and making distancing mandatory in their premises.”

In the letter to Flemming, the Justice Centre said the order had raised “growing and significant concern” across Canada as it potentially includes grocery stores as a premise at which “the Government is inviting the option of proof of vaccination.”

On Dec. 11, the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market, which is owned by the provincial government and leased to the City of Fredericton, announced its vaccination policy stating that “proof of double vaccination (or medical exemption) will be required to shop indoors, for all visitors 12 and over.”

In response to the mandate, the Justice Centre sent a warning letter to Fredericton on Dec. 15 “demanding it be immediately reversed for its unprecedented unconstitutional and human rights violations.”

Memauri said the order grants the New Brunswick government the potential power to encroach into peoples’ lives.

“This Order which served to segregate citizens was a very concerning development in Canada. It would have been the first attempt by a government to deny essential services and food to Canadians who decide against receiving a COVID vaccine, as is their constitutional right.”

The Justice Centre’s warning letter stated that the right to food is a fundamental human right enshrined in various international instruments, including Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.

On Dec. 13, Conservative MPs representing New Brunswick constituencies, John Williamson and Richard Bragdon, also released statements lauding grocery stores that continue to allow unvaccinated Canadians to shop versus those who don’t.

“I want to commend national and local essential food retailers that continue to serve all New Brunswick customers and aren’t requesting proof of vaccinations as a condition to enter their grocery stores,” Williamson said in a statement.

“Denying people access to essential basic necessities is not defensible in any society, under any circumstance.”

Bragdon said he is glad to see there are retailers who chose not to “enforce this coercive measure.”

“Choosing to deny individuals the ability to obtain essential services is the last thing we should be doing,” he said on Facebook.

On Dec. 17, New Brunswick revised its public health order and announced the changes, and the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market followed suit the same day.

“An option allowing stores that sell groceries to ask patrons 12 and over for proof of vaccination, instead of implementing distancing requirements, is being removed from the province’s mandatory order,” the government said in a press release.

“The original intention was to give stores a choice, and that those choosing the proof-of-vaccination option would offer delivery or curbside pickup; it was never the intention for anyone to believe they could not access groceries.”

The Justice Centre stressed that “no offer for delivery or curbside pickup was offered” when the policy was first announced on Dec. 4.

Though the officials revised the order, the legal group said it still infringes the Canada’s charter as it relates to faith-based venues, by requiring anyone that attends religious services to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 for certain events.

“We will continue our legal work in this regard. The Government has no legal or scientific justification to tell churches and faith based groups who can be allowed to attend services and on what grounds,” Memauri said.

Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.