Seneca College’s mandatory vaccine policy is stopping students from completing their education and is “unethical and unlawful,” according to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).

Two students represented by the JCCF are now suing the college for denying them education due to their vaccine refusal.

Seneca College was the first postsecondary institution in Canada to announce that all students and staff coming to campus in September 2021 must have the COVID-19 vaccine. “Some doors will open to the vaccinated, and some will remain closed to the unvaccinated,” wrote Seneca College President David Agnew for the Toronto Star. 

“The use of coercive and intimidating tactics in threatening to destroy students’ education and career prospects if they do not submit and receive the new COVID-19 vaccine is unethical and unlawful,” says JCCF Staff Lawyer Allison Pejovic.

In July, the JCCF sent letters on behalf of the students, advising Seneca College that legal action would commence if it did not lift the vaccine requirement. The letters never received a response. 

In a Tuesday press release, JCCF identified the students as Ms. Mariana Costa and Ms. Crystal Love. Both students are anticipated to complete their education in April 2022. Costa is enrolled in a three-year Fashion Arts program, and Love is a single mother enrolled in a two-year Veterinary Technician program. 

Although Agnew claimed in an email announcing the vaccination policy that Senica is not “requiring anyone to get a vaccine,” it is clear that those who are not eligible for a medical exemption and do not comply are left with few other options. 

Costa and Love cannot fully complete their programs online, which will leave them struggling to begin their careers and earn enough income to pay back their student loans.

Agnew justifies the mandate on the basis that vaccines will “stop the spread of infections.”

Pejovic counters that Seneca’s policy is “not science or evidence-based, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has admitted that fully vaccinated people with breakthrough infections carry high viral loads and can spread the disease to others.”

The JCCF plans to “aggressively defend” students’ charter rights against the “unconstitutional policy.” They assert that “in a free country, individuals are entitled to choose what they inject into their own bodies.” 

A court may find that “vaccine mandates discriminate against the unvaccinated and are a violation of their equality rights,” according to JCCF. They claim that Seneca College bypassed the process of informed consent by failing to disclose “all of the known potential risks associated with the Covid-19 vaccinations (such as Bell’s Palsy, myocarditis, pericarditis, and thrombosis)” before telling students that vaccinations would be required to complete their education.

True North contacted Seneca College for comment but did not hear back by the time this article was published.

The JCCF is still gearing up for the legal battle in which they will “fiercely defend these women and their right to bodily integrity and the freedom to choose what medical treatment they undertake, without the fear of being denied their education.”

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