Conservative leadership candidates Pierre Poilievre and Roman Baber slammed the University of Toronto’s decision to mandate Covid-19 vaccine boosters for students and staff living in residences.

On Thursday, the university’s vice-president and provost Cheryl Regehr and the vice-president of people strategy, equity and culture Kelly Hannah-Moffat announced that the university would be reinstating its vaccine mandate. 

“Recently, U of T reinstated the vaccination requirement for students and employees living in university residences,” they said.

“Students living in residences this fall will be required to have a primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine and at least one booster dose before moving in.”

The two leadership candidates took to Twitter to criticize the university’s decision.

“Now universities want to shut out students who are not triple vaccinated. Enough. Let students take back control of their lives. End Covid vaccine mandates. Now,” Poilievre tweeted.

Baber echoed Poilievre’s opposition to vaccine mandates for students.

“CMOH (Canadian Medical Officer of Health) Dr. Kieran Moore said Ontario can’t recommend boosters for everyone, since young persons should assess the small risk of hospitalization vs 1 in 5,000 risk of myocarditis. Shame on U of T for forcing students to factor in the risk to their education,” said Baber.

According to U of T, the renewed vaccine mandate doesn’t apply to students or staff living off campus, but the university says that mandate “may be reinstated on short notice if public health conditions or guidance change.”

Several Canadian post-secondary institutions implemented vaccine mandates for students and staff last year, and several professors were fired for refusing to comply with vaccine mandates, including Huron University College ethics professor Julie Ponesse, who went viral for telling her story.

“I am facing imminent dismissal after 20 years on the job because I will not submit to having an experimental vaccine injected into my body,” Ponesse said in her video.

“It’s ethically wrong to coerce someone to take a vaccine.”

“I’m entitled to make choices about what does and does not enter my body, regardless of my reasons. If I’m allowed back into my university, it’s my job to teach my students that this is wrong.”

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Harrison Faulkner is producer and journalist for True North based in Toronto.

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