Tribunal dismisses complaints alleging discrimination due to B.C. vaccine pass

Since the Aug. 23 announcement, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has been deluged with complaints about the B.C. vaccine card.

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The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a pair of complaints against Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry alleging discrimination stemming from the new B.C. vaccine card, set to take effect on Monday.

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The complaints were dismissed in the screening stage. In an unusual move, the Sept. 9 decisions were published on the tribunal’s website due to high public interest and high volume of complaints alleging discrimination.

The decisions put other complainants on notice about the challenges in asserting the upcoming proof-of-vaccination requirement at discretionary venues and services such as restaurants and gyms violates human rights.

In the complaint against Henry, the unnamed complainant said he has asthma and does not want services curtailed because of an “experimental vaccine.” 

While asthma counts as a physical disability, protected under the B.C. Human Rights Code, the complainant has not experienced an actual adverse impact.

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“Without an actual adverse impact related to a service, facility or accommodation customarily available to the public, this complaint could not constitute a breach of the Code,” wrote tribunal chairwoman Emily Ohler.

She adds that even if the complainant was denied a service because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, he still has to establish a connection between having asthma and not being fully vaccinated, such as his disability preventing him from getting the shot.

“An ideological opposition to or distrust of the vaccine would not be enough,” Ohler said.

In the complaint against Horgan, filed on behalf of people opposed to “being forced” into getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the complainant said the government’s plan to implement a vaccine pass was “aggressive” and “unjustified” and counts as “segregation.”

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She alleges the government’s policy discriminates based on the grounds of political belief.

Ohler said that while she accepts a belief opposing government rules regarding vaccination could be a political belief, it only protects a person from adverse impacts in their workplace and does not exempt them from obeying provincial health orders.

She said the complainant alleges no facts that her employment has been affected.

“The Code does not permit a direct challenge to a public health order based merely on disagreement with it,” found Ohler.

Both cases were dismissed. In both decisions, the tribunal withheld the names of the complainants to protect their privacy.

chchan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/cherylchan

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