Ontario universities that require all students to get COVID-19 vaccines are staring down the barrel of a legal confrontation. 

The Constitutional Rights Centre (CRC), which represents Children’s Health Defense Canada, announced on July 26 that it had sent legal notices to Western University and Seneca College. The documents threaten lawsuits unless the universities scrap their vaccine mandates.

The CRC says mandatory vaccines “have no place in a Constitutional Democracy.”

Seneca College was the first post-secondary institution in Canada to require vaccinations for students returning to campus this fall. Those who do not comply will be left to resume their studies “online or in a flexible-delivery format.” In its letter to Seneca, the CRC says the university contravenes its own discrimination and harassment policy by “making an arbitrary and unlawful distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated students.”

Western University announced its COVID vaccine policy on May 27, 2021, which “requires students living in residence to have received at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine preferably before their move-in date but at least within 14 days following their move-in date.”  The CRC states that Western’s mandate “runs afoul of the principles and objectives… of numerous statutes including, the Healthcare Consent Act, and the Personal Health Information Protection Act.”

In the letter to Western University, the CRC states that since “the COVID-19 vaccine has not been approved by Health Canada for general use and has only been made available for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), the decision and responsibility for mandating lies squarely and exclusively with the university.”

In Ontario, most universities, including the University of Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier University, the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto, have decided to mandate vaccines.

Standing in stark contrast to Ontario is Quebec, where most universities, including McGill and Concordia, do not require the COVID-19 vaccine.

McGill University’s “view is that [they] cannot legally require this in the Quebec context unless the Government mandates vaccination.”

On their website Concordia University writes, “to date, public health authorities have not given any directives that would require Concordia to make vaccinations mandatory for faculty, staff or students.”

The CRC says it is preparing to send letters to more institutions because “colleges and universities are not above the law, especially the Constitution.”

“Educational institutions have no business pressuring, influencing, forcing, compelling, coercing, nor extorting students to assume an Emergency Use Authorization only inoculation as a term of attending,” asserts the CRC. 

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