An Alberta mother and her son who suffer from medical issues were told by a Red Deer ski resort that their physician-ordered mask exemption notes could not be accepted. 

True North was shown a December 28th, 2020 email correspondence with Canyon Ski Resort by the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous to protect the identity of her son.

“What does no exceptions mean? My son and I are both mask exempt as per our physician. Does this mean we are not able to attend?” the woman inquired.

“Yes sorry that is correct. Unfortunately, we do not accept mask exemptions here,” Canyon Ski Resort replied. 

According to the resort’s coronavirus procedures page, facial coverings are mandatory for all staff, volunteers and guests upon arrival. 

“You are only permitted to remove your face covering while eating or drinking. No exceptions,” the Canyon Ski Resort website reads. 

However, local and provincial public health rules around masks do include exemptions from mask wearing for certain individuals.

The City of Red Deer exempts “those with an underlying medical condition, mental concern or disability, which inhibits their ability to wear a face covering.” 

“If individuals are concerned about whether they should be exempt from the bylaw, they are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their physician or another member of their healthcare team,” the City of Red Deer writes. 

True North spoke to the mother in question and was provided with copies of the exemption notes issued by a local Red Deer family physician. 

“My medical exemption is for PTSD and asthma. I served on the ambulance for many years and as a result was diagnosed with PTSD in 2011. Asthma, this year after a pulmonary function test,” said the mother. 

“My son’s exemption is for facial eczema which is exacerbated by wearing a mask. He also suffers from anxiety when wearing the mask so his physician chose to exempt him.”

This is not the first instance where she or her son have been denied service or entry by a business as a result of their mask exemptions since the pandemic began. According to her, this has become a constant phenomenon in her and her family’s life.

“What has happened as a result of this is I have become a recluse. Even when I have made it into stores the stares and glares are overwhelming. I have even had people calling me selfish and inconsiderate while walking past me. Now I have strong shoulders and can take it but this has been even harder on my son. He doesn’t understand why people are so mean and why we now can’t go anywhere,” she said.

The mother also went on to say that her troubles with mandatory mask rules have caused her “pretty deep scars.”

“I’m scared to go out with my son as I don’t want him to have to view and be a part of the spectacle that is always created while I try and talk my way into every store we go to. The refusals have severely limited what we can do and what we have access to.”

“Like other kids that get to go skiing and ride the tubes, I can’t even bring it up to my son cause he knows he’s missing out on a lot of activities others can do. I notice greatly how hard this has been on my son. As well on myself.”

According to the official Alberta Human Rights Commission service providers have a “duty to accommodate” those who are exempt from wearing masks for certain disabilities or difficulties. 

“People with certain disabilities may have difficulty wearing a mask if, for example, they have severe allergies, experience asthma attacks, or have other respiratory issues,”
the Alberta Human Rights Commission writes. 

“An inability to access or use a mask should not lead to automatic negative consequences, such as harassment, employee discipline or termination, complete denial of service, or eviction from housing.”

Attempts to contact Canyon Ski Resort for comment went unanswered by the time of publication. 

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Journalist and Senior Research Fellow

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