A steadily-growing number of Canadian universities and colleges have announced mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for all staff, students and visitors who will be attending campus this fall.
This comes as the provincial governments of Ontario and New Brunswick have announced mandatory vaccination policies for their public sectors, and as the federal government has announced that it will require vaccination for all federal employees and those working in federally regulated industries such as airlines and railways.
Some postsecondary schools, such as the 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 schools that have announced mandatory vaccination policies 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.
In an initial statement, the University of Toronto said:
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.
However, U of T later reversed course following backlash from campus unions regarding the self-declaration. The university will now require proof of vaccination for all students, faculty and staff, who will have to take twice-weekly rapid tests if they do not provide proof of vaccination status.
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.
The University of Calgary previously stated that it will require neither vaccines nor face masks for staff and students returning to campus this fall, but shortly afterwards reversed its decision. It will now join the University of Lethbridge and University of Alberta in both mandating face masks and requiring all staff and students to either get the vaccine or undergo regular COVID-19 testing prior to attending campus.
Do you oppose the use of vaccine passports in Canada? Go to NoVaxPassports.ca to sign our petition.