Growing number of Canadian universities make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory

Growing number of Canadian universities make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory
The Canadian Press / Nathan Denette
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​​An increasing number of Canadian universities have announced that they will require mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all staff, students and visitors who will be attending campus this fall.  

The latest to announce this move is Waterloo-based Wilfrid Laurier University. It joins a growing list of post-secondary schools that includes the University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson University, Ontario Tech University, Seneca College, Queen’s University, Western University, University of Windsor, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, Brock University, University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina.

Some schools, such as University of Waterloo, will allow those who are not fully vaccinated or who do not want to share their vaccination status to instead opt for regular COVID-19 testing prior to entering campus. Others, such as the University of Guelph, will only allow exemptions for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or for specific grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

In a show of seriousness regarding adherence to its mandate, the University of Guelph stated on its website that students “may receive a full refund” on their registration deposits “if [they] choose to withdraw from the fall 2021 semester because of the vaccination requirement.”

Most universities on this list have stated that all staff, students and visitors must self-declare their vaccination status by way of a screening app. Those who knowingly lie on the self-declaration could be subject to serious consequences. Once a government-issued proof of vaccination system has been implemented, the universities will then explore use of these systems to verify vaccination status. 

The University of Toronto said in a statement,

In the absence of a legal framework and supporting tools like a digital vaccination record or passport, we are requiring self-declaration with additional safety measures like rapid screening for those who are not fully vaccinated.

Similarly, University of Guelph president Charlotte Yates stated Thursday, 

I am not asking [teaching assistants], graduate students, researchers, faculty to enforce and that's what this would come down to unless we can get an easy mechanism such as a vaccine passport.

On the flip side, four city post-secondary institutions in Calgary have affirmed that they will not institute any vaccination requirements for in-person activities. This follows an announcement from the University of Calgary that it will require neither vaccines nor face masks for staff and students returning to its campus this fall. 

Do you oppose the use of vaccine passports in Canada? Go to NoVaxPassports.ca to sign our petition.

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