Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson found that Dr. Bonnie Henry was guided by the principles applicable to public-health decision-making and, in particular, the paradigm that public health interventions be proportionate to the threat faced
The judge said that Henry was guided by the principles applicable to public-health decision-making and, in particular, the paradigm that public health interventions be proportionate to the threat faced and that measures should not exceed those necessary to address the actual risks.
In a second ruling, Hinkson rejected a petition alleging the vaccine passport provisions discriminated against persons with disabilities, contrary to the Charter. In a third ruling, he set aside a petition from a man in Victoria who argued that the vaccine passport regime offended his right to liberty in an arbitrary manner.
In a fourth ruling, he dealt with three B.C. residents who said they had participated in public vaccinations and did not challenge the orders generally.
But they alleged that there was an unconstitutional failure to provide an effective, comprehensive and accessible regime for medical exemptions to orders requiring that people be fully vaccinated to attend restaurants and other public places imposed last year but since rescinded.
Leigh Anne Eliason, a mother and resident of Maple Ridge, argued that she had a number of medical conditions including kidney disease that, on her doctor’s recommendation, should allow her to get an exemption from vaccinations. Her doctor provided an affidavit saying that he had submitted to the health authorities the medical reasons why he was recommending she not get any shots.
Dawn Slykhuis, who works as a youth crisis clinician at Fraser Health in Port Moody, said she sought an exemption after receiving the Pfizer vaccine in April, 2021, and then experiencing sharp, shooting pains on the left side of her head. She said she had requested an exemption on “religious or conscience” grounds, noting that she was a vegan and animal rights advocate, but was denied the exemption.
William Robertson Prendiville, who works in building operations in New Westminster and is a resident of Burnaby, said he began to experience pain in his chest that radiated through his upper body after getting his first COVID vaccine in May 2021. He said his cardiologist determined he had experienced a bad reaction to the vaccination and was told to avoid further shots. Prendiville says he was granted a temporary medical exemption but that he’s been turned away from the majority of businesses despite the exemption.
In his ruling, Hinkson said there was no evidence that Eliason’s doctor’s deferral form had been received by health authorities.
The judge also noted that although Slykhuis said she had been denied an exemption, she had not submitted a deferral form despite advising health authorities of her intention to do so.
“At present, Ms. Eliason and Ms. Slykhuis have not engaged with the reconsideration process and thus there is no final decision for this court to review,” said Hinkson. “I find that neither Ms. Eliason nor Ms. Slykhuis have exhausted all of their statutory remedies, and thus should not be permitted to pursue the relief sought in this petition until they have done so.”
The judge found that in getting his exemption, Prendiville had successfully pursued the statutory remedies available to him and while he had encountered difficulties in getting businesses to accept his exemption, that was not the fault of the health authorities.
“Accordingly, I am unable to find that Mr. Prendiville’s Charter rights have been infringed, and thus the relief he has sought in this petition is unjustified.”