Ontario judge rules mother does not have to vaccinate kids against COVID-19

An Ontario judge has ruled in favour of a mother who does not want to vaccinate her children against COVID-19 citing his decision was based on the credible evidence she presented. Melissa Nakhavoly with how the judge came to this decision.

By Melissa Nakhavoly

How fine is the line between “vaccine hesitancy” and “not taking any chances with your kid”. It’s a question asked by an Ontario judge who recently ruled in favour of a mother who refused to vaccinate her two children against COVID-19.

In the ruling made last week, Justice Alex Pazaratz rejected a father’s motion to have his two young children – ages 10 and 12 – vaccinated, noting a number of factors must be taken into account.

“It’s not necessarily going to be a slam dunk decision that because the government recommends it that the court is going to order the children to be vaccinated,” said Kevin Caspersz, Senior Associate Lawyer at Shulman & Partners LLP.

In a written ruling the judge says the mother submitted a fact sheet issued by Pfizer and scientific papers to present her case. Whereas, the father submitted fact sheets issued by the government and the Canadian Pediatric Society, as well posts from the mother’s social media accounts alleging misinformation. The Judge said the father’s evidence was focused extensively on labelling and discrediting the mother. Caspersz says what also helped in this decision was the children made a clear statement that they did not want to receive a vaccine.

“Together with the children’s opinions and the case that the mother presented, and the father’s failure to provide evidence that suggested otherwise – that vaccination was in the children’s best interest despite these potential concerns – Justice Pazaratz decided that he was not going to order the children to be vaccinated.”

In the written ruling, Justice Pazarats compares the government’s push to vaccinate children to Canada’s treatment of Indigenous People’s.

“Why should we be so reluctant to take judicial notice that the government is always right.” And goes on to say, “What about the Residential School system? For decades the government assured us that taking Indigenous children away – and being willfully blind to their abuse – was the right thing to do. We’re still finding children’s bodies. How about sterilizing Eskimo women? The same thing. The government knew best.”

“He is just simply encouraging the court going forward, not to simply take judicial notice and accept that’s where the decision should default to. But instead, take all the factors that have been presented, take all the circumstances and all the evidence that the parties present and then make a ruling solely based on those things for that specific case”, said Caspersz.

A similar case in Quebec saw a mother there lose her appeal to prevent her kids from getting vaccinated. In that case, the judge dismissed her claim that the vaccination was not necessary.

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