Healthcare Policy

Healthcare Policy 16(2) November 2020 : 14-20.doi:10.12927/hcpol.2020.26357
Discussion and Debate

Eliminating Religious and Philosophical Exemptions: The Next Step in Ontario’s Campaign against Vaccine Hesitancy

Bryan Thomas and Colleen M. Flood


Ontario families are required to provide up-to-date vaccination records as children begin schooling. Exemptions are allowed on both medical and nonmedical (religious or philosophical) grounds. In a recent report, Toronto Public Health (2019) called for an end to nonmedical exemptions – a proposal some allege infringes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to freedom of religion and conscience. This paper explores whether and to what extent vaccine refusal is protected under the Charter and argues that the elimination of nonmedical exemptions can be justified under Section 1 of the Charter. The issue of mandatory vaccination may take on special urgency in the coming months and years, if and when a vaccine is found for COVID-19.



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