Are COVID Immunity Passports Legal?

As Coronavirus vaccinations are being distributed throughout Canada, there has been discussion over whether the government will implement an immunity passport system. Immunity passports are government documents issued to those who have received a vaccination. These documents serve as proof that the individual is immune to the disease or virus for which they have been vaccinated.

In countries where such a system has been implemented, individuals must show their immunity passport prior to entering the country, attending certain large events, and entering certain buildings. Those who have not been vaccinated or cannot prove that they have been vaccinated may be refused entry. Such systems currently exist in many parts of Africa, requiring individuals be vaccinated for Yellow Fever prior to entering the country or attending certain locations or events.

While the federal government in Canada has indicated that it has no plans to implement such a system for Coronavirus, some provincial governments are taking a different stance. In early December 2020, the Ford government indicated that Ontarians would receive documentation after being vaccinated, allowing them to prove they are immune. While the government has assured Canadian’s that the vaccine will not be mandatory, the implementation of such a system could certainly infringe on the rights of certain Canadian’s.

CTV News Vancouver: Quarantine Act and COVID-19.

Global News Morning Show: COVID-19 Social Distancing Laws.

Legal Information

Your Charter Rights and COVID Immunity Passports

Section 6 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees all Canadian citizens certain mobility rights, including the right enter and leave Canada. Section 15 of the Charter also provides citizens with equality rights including the right to be considered equal before and under the law. These rights could be affected for some individuals should an immunity passport system be adopted.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has indicated that those who are not vaccinated may be subject to certain restrictions. In other words, without the vaccine individuals will not be permitted in certain settings unless other safety precautions have been put in place. Section 1 of the Charter allows for the infringement of individual rights only where reasonable and necessary to protect the rights of a greater number of individuals.

Can Business refuse You without a vaccine?

In addition to government restrictions, those who do not have an immunity passport may also face restrictions from private businesses. The Charter applies only to government agencies, meaning private businesses may implement restrictions as they see fit. This could leave those without an immunity passport barred from travelling by air, attaining certain private services, and attending events such as concerts, festivals or even the movies.

As we continue to move towards a more global workforce, competing interests with personal liberties will likely increase. As a result, governments will attempt to balance the rights of individuals and do what is best for the highest number of people.

More information on social distancing regulations in Ontario can be found here and its powers used for Quarantine here.

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