BC Chief Justice Hinkson dismisses four separate challenges to BC’s vaccine passport program – BC News

B.C.’s chief justice was busy last week, dismissing four separate challenges to B.C.’s vaccine passport program.

Since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic in March 2020, BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued a number of orders aimed at reduce the spread of the virus in the province, including requiring proof of vaccination to enter a number of businesses such as restaurants. The so-called “vaccine passport” was in place in British Columbia from September 2021 to April 2022.

One of four cases dismissed by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson on Monday was a petition by a non-profit organization called the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy, which sought to obtain the so-called ” vaccine passport” by Dr. Henry. regime” was ruled unconstitutional.

As the scheme was lifted in April this year, Chief Justice Hinkson said there was a possibility the government would reinstate the order at a later date, so he opted to hear arguments despite the fact that the question was perhaps “not applicable”.

CSASPP argued that the health orders violated B.C.’s rights to freedom of religion, expression, assembly, association, life, liberty, security of the person and equality .

The company relied on a report by Dr. Joel Kettenr, former chief medical officer of health and chief public health officer for the province of Manitoba from 1999 to 2012. But as the report was written after public health orders in question, Chief Justice Hinkson said that “it cannot be the basis of a challenge to those [health] orders.”

The company’s chief executive, Kipling Warner, said he had not been double-vaccinated against COVID-19, and that the vaccine passport program meant he “couldn’t enjoy Four Candlelight performance. Seasons by Vivaldi, nor go to restaurants, cinemas, yoga classes or cultural events for a period of time,” Judge Hinkson said.

“Mr. Warner claims this amounts to a violation of his Charter rights.

But Chief Justice Hinkson said the vaccine passport only restricted access to private facilities, “to which there is no right of unfettered access”.

In the end, he wasn’t convinced that Dr. Henry’s orders were unreasonable.

“I am convinced that the [Public Health Officer] assessed the available scientific evidence to determine the risk of COVID-19 for gatherings in British Columbia, including epidemiological data regarding transmission of SARS-CoV-2 globally, nationally and in British Columbia, factors resulting in high transmission risk in religious settings and COVID-19 epidemiology in British Columbia,” Chief Justice Hinkson wrote.

“PHO prescriptions are time-limited and constantly reviewed and re-evaluated to respond to scientific evidence and current epidemiological conditions in British Columbia.

CSAPP is also seeking certification of a class action lawsuit against the province on behalf of British Columbians who “suffered bodily injury or other harm as a result of the defendants’ actions in declaring a state of emergency,” in that regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. A certification hearing is scheduled in this case in December this year.

Regarding Monday’s decision, Warner wrote to his supporters, “In a word, we lost. I’m sorry.”

In a separate decision by Chief Justice Hinkson on Monday, he denied a similar request from Victoria resident Jeremy Maddock, who was unable to access restaurants when the vaccine passport order was in place.

In his ruling, Chief Justice Hinkson said Maddock “relyed primarily on his own unqualified scientific opinion on transmissibility which questioned the impact of vaccination on transmissibility. His papers did not acknowledge or address the increased risk of serious illness, hospitalization or death for unvaccinated people.

A third case, Chief Justice Hinkson, involved medical exemptions for the vaccine passport program.

The three claimants in this case had either been told by their doctor not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical condition, or they had had bad reactions to their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and decided not to receive a second dose. .

Leigh Anne Eliason and Dawn Slykhuis were unable to obtain an exemption for the vaccine passport, while William Prendiville was able to obtain an official exemption, but “his attempts to use the certificate for its intended purpose were largely unsuccessful”.

“None of the petitioners dispute the general importance of receiving vaccines, and in particular COVID-19 vaccines,” Chief Justice Hinkson noted.

“Their petition challenges the constitutional validity of the orders … as allegedly limiting their ability to exercise their rights in a free and democratic society, as they claim they have medical restrictions and limitations that prevent them from receiving full treatment for the vaccines covered by the prescriptions.

But Chief Justice Hinkson ultimately ruled that Eliason and Slykhuis had not exhausted all other options before taking the case to court because they had not yet “initiated the reconsideration process”. Further, he ruled that while Prendiville has “met with less than complete acceptance of its temporary postponement by businesses,” it’s not the province’s fault.

“The province cannot be held responsible for the implementation of the orders by private companies, nor can private companies violate an individual’s rights under the Charter,” Chief Justice Hinkson wrote. .

Finally, a fourth case presented by the Canadian Constitution Foundation was similar to the previous one, in that the three petitioners were in favor of vaccinations in general, but took issue with the medical exemptions of the vaccine passport scheme.

As was the case in the previous case, Chief Justice Hinkson found that the three petitioners “have not exhausted the remedies available to them under the statutory scheme”. As such, he found it unnecessary to address their Charter arguments and the motion was dismissed.

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