Human rights complaints against B.C. premier, top doctor over vaccine mandate dismissed

Vancouver –

Human rights complaints against B.C.’s premier and top doctor over COVID-19 vaccine rules have been dismissed by the province’s tribunal.

Only vague details about the complaints were shared by BC Human Rights Tribunal member Emily Ohler, who said she was sharing her screening process “in light of the volume of these types of complaints and public interest in this issue.”

Ohler said the tribunal “has received a large volume of inquiries and complaints alleging discrimination in connection with pending vaccination requirements.” The complainant wasn’t identified in either claim.

In the complaint against Premier John Horgan, which was filed on Aug. 24, the individual said they’d filed “on behalf of ‘people who are opposed to being forced into getting the COVID-19 vaccination and getting our basic human rights stripped from us.'” Ohler notes the complainant appears to be referring to the Aug. 23 announcement about vaccine cards, which came into effect on Monday.

“The British Columbia government has made a very aggressive and unjustified move that goes against our basic human right to bodily autonomy and medical freedoms,” an excerpt of the submitted complaint, included in Ohler’s decision, says.

“The government has no right to tell us what goes into our bodies or threatening us into getting this vaccination by taking away our basic rights and freedoms.”

Under B.C.’s mandate, proof-of-vaccination is required at some non-essential services and businesses like restaurants, movie theatres, clubs and casinos.

Proof that a person has had one or both doses of COVID-19 vaccine is not required at businesses deemed essential, such as on transit or at grocery stores. A card also doesn’t need to be shown when stopping at a restaurant just to pick up a takeout order.

The card will not be required in order to vote in the Sept. 20 federal election, nor is it be required to access government services.

Ohler’s decision says the person filed their complaint on the grounds of political belief in the area of employment.

“I stress that protection from discrimination based on political belief does not exempt a person from following provincial health orders or rules,” her decision says.

“Rather, it protects a person from adverse impacts in their employment based on their beliefs … the complainant alleges no facts related to any adverse impact in employment.”

Meanwhile, the complaint against provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry alleged discrimination in the area of services based on a physical disability. Ohler’s decision said that individual also failed to establish an adverse impact in accessing a service.

“The complainant says that he has asthma, had pneumonia as a child, and ‘does not want your experimental COVID vaccine,'” Ohler’s decision notes, adding that asthma could be a physical disability.

But Ohler says the complainant didn’t actually allege he experienced an adverse impact, but “references a prospective adverse impact.”

“Even if the complainant had outlined an adverse impact, such as being denied a service because he was not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, he would then have to allege facts that could establish a connection between having asthma and not being fully vaccinated,” Ohler’s decision says.

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

At least one COVID-19 vaccine dose is required to access some discretionary businesses and events. By Oct. 24, proof of two vaccine doses will be required.  

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