May 5, 2016 VIA Email to email@example.com
Ombudsman of Ontario
Bell Trinity Square
483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower
Toronto, ON M5G 2C9
Dear Mr. Dubé,
Re: Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care fails to ensure that Ontario citizens are adequately informed of their legal right to exemption from the vaccination requirements under the Immunization of School Pupils Act
This submission is a continuation of the initial complaint hand delivered to your office on November 1, 2012. Following our initial complaint we submitted additional material via email and mail including a letter dated June 4, 2013 to your office to the attention of James Nicholas. These materials included health unit flyers, media reports and letters from then Minister of Health Deb Matthews.
Our reason for writing again is that informed consent with regard to vaccination is not improving in Ontario since our initial complaint in 2012. Instead the legal rights of parents to informed consent are being disrespected and eroded even further. We update you with the following:
On February 29, 2016, CTV Toronto News at Noon covered a press conference held by the Minister of Health, Dr. Eric Hoskins. You can read the entire transcript, with screen shots here, and watch the video of the news segment here.
Reporter Paul Bliss begins by stating, “The Health Minister, Dr. Eric Hoskins, is a bit worried about the trend that the [vaccine] documentation hasn’t been done. He’s toured a hospital in downtown Toronto this morning and was telling reporters that it’s extremely important that all children receive the mandatory vaccinations. Plus it is the law.” The caption on the report read, “Mandatory Vaccination”.
Dr. Hoskins stated, “It is a legal requirement in this province. It is subject to suspension as they know but they have been given every opportunity in most cases and I think in all cases several letters provided to the family members to the parents prior to this decision or the warning that if they don’t immunize their child their child could be subject to suspension.”
Ontario’s Minister of Health is Misleading the Public
Mr. Dubé, the above statements by the Minister of Health and reporter Paul Bliss are misleading and incorrect. Under the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) legal exemptions are available to parents who wish to decline any or all vaccinations for diseases covered under the Act for medical, religious and conscientious reasons.
These exemptions are legal rights of the citizens of Ontario under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, informed consent laws in Ontario and the Canadian Constitution, as described by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian National Report on Immunization, 1996, which states,
“Unlike some countries, immunization is not mandatory in Canada; it cannot be made mandatory because of the Canadian Constitution. Only three provinces have legislation or regulations under their health-protection acts to require proof of immunization for school entrance. Ontario and New Brunswick require proof for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella immunization. In Manitoba, only measles vaccination is covered. It must be emphasized that, in these three provinces, exceptions are permitted for medical or religious grounds and reasons of conscience; legislation and regulations must not be interpreted to imply compulsory immunization.”
Manitoba has changed their law since this 1996 report and that province no longer requires measles vaccination.
On September 15, 2015, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care posted the following on their Facebook page, misleading their audience by implying mandatory vaccination in Ontario:
“In Ontario, all children attending school need to be vaccinated according to the publicly-funded immunization schedule. Children and teens who aren’t immunized may not be allowed to attend school without up-to-date immunization documentation.
Children attending licensed daycares in the province are also required to be immunized according to their age and as recommended in Ontario’s publicly funded immunization schedule.
Check out ontario.ca/vaccines for more information on immunization requirements for school attendance and vaccines in general.”
Comments at the above Facebook page reveal the frustrations of parents who feel misled. One said,
“You’d have much more credibility with people if you didn’t lie. No one has to be, there’s easily obtained exemptions based on religious, medical or philisophical [sic] beliefs. Schools MUST accept these if they are publically funded, same with daycares. I am not saying that’s right or wrong, but it IS in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which is why Ontario is the only province who even attempts mandatory vaccines for school. But really, the misleading (or flat out lying) commentary attached to this post is partially why people have such a distrust with medical authority and the government.”
And another commented,
“Actually children who have an exemption are allowed to attend schools and daycares. People have exemptions for various reasons from previous reactions, allergies, or religious or personal beliefs. I feel this post is actually misleading and that’s disappointing considering it’s coming from the Ontario Ministry of Health.”
Health Units and Medical Officers Neglect to Inform Citizens on their Legal Rights
Health Unit websites, their Medical Officers of Health and spokespersons also continue to neglect to inform Ontario citizens of their legal rights to exemptions under the ISPA. You can see a recent example of at this CTV Kitchener story, “Students face suspension if not immunized.”
This March 7, 2016 article mentions medical exemptions, but there is no mention of religious or conscientious exemptions. By clicking the link from the CTV story to the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit, you arrive on a page stating, “Students in Ontario must have their vaccinations up to date and on record with Public Health – or they may not be allowed to attend school.” No mention of exemptions.
If you click on the upper right hand link on the same “Message from the Medical Officer of Health” you will see a short video of Dr. Mercer stating that “every student attending school in Ontario has to have their vaccinations up to date and those records stored with public health. … as a parent you need to make sure that your child’s vaccinations are up to date and they have been reported to public health otherwise your child may not be able to attend school.” There was no mention of exemptions in Dr. Mercer’s video clip.
Vaccine Choice Canada was contacted on March 17, 2016 by an Ontario resident who wrote:
“The Hastings Prince Edward Public Health have been announcing on our local radio station the fact that there are around 2000 students with outstanding immunization records in our county. Their plan, which was announced on the radio, is to suspend all these students if their order for suspensions are not complied with. A close friend of mine received such a letter in regards to her daughter who has an outstanding MMR vaccine. The letter omits the possibly of her using the statement of conscience or religious belief. The letter is attached with permission from the recipient. I was very confused about this as I know this to be a legal reason for exemption of vaccinations. My friend sent a commissioned affidavit anyway with a statement of conscience or religious belief. She has not heard back yet as to whether her exemption was accepted. I am disgusted that the option of religious and conscience belief was omitted as a choice for her on this suspension letter. I can only assume this was the case on all the orders of suspensions sent out in our county. Can they legally do this?”
If you view the Order for Suspension from Attendance at School form letter, you will see that the Medical Officer of Health for the Hastings & Prince Edward Public Health warns that “…this order will be rescinded upon receipt of 1(A) or 1(b) or 1(c) as indicated below.” You will see that option 1(D) “A Statement of conscience or religious belief (comissioned [sic] affidavit required)” is omitted as a choice. This misleading, incorrect and unlawful suspension notice is just another indication of continued, egregious failure of the Ministry of Health and their public health units to inform parents of their legal rights under the ISPA. This health unit issued a press release on March 14, 2016 titled “Extra Immunization Clinics Available to Avoid Student Suspensions”, omitting the availability of legal exemptions. This same press release appeared word for word in the Metroland Media paper delivered in the HPE Public Health Unit’s area.
On April 6, 2016, 570news.com reported, “Over 900 students suspended for not updating immunization records” which did not mention exemptions. The article linked to The Region of Waterloo Public Health PDF titled, “You asked us HOW TO AVOID SCHOOL SUSPENSION”. The two page “postcard” neglects to mention that legal exemptions are available, further misleading parents to believe that they must vaccinate their children.
Our Meeting with the MOHLTC
The Investigator for our initial complaint in 2012, James Nicholas, was able to encourage Ministry of Health staff to have a “dialogue” with VRAN (now called Vaccine Choice Canada). Three members of VRAN (now VCC) met via teleconference with two MOHLTC staff on February 24, 2014. Meeting notes provided by the MOHLTC can be viewed here, and the Meeting Follow-Up document dated January 15, 2015 can be viewed here.
We included the MOH web page, “Immunizations for School Attendance” in our discussions with the Ministry. We have been contacted by numerous parents over the years complaining that this web page does not mention exemptions. We recently accessed this page and it has never been updated to include any mention of exemptions. From the Meeting Follow-Up with the MOHLTC:
VRAN provided additional comments on May 14, 2014 as follows:
VRAN was recently contacted by an Ontario resident who interpreted the information on the MOHLTC web page titled “Immunizations for School Attendance” as vaccination was mandatory for school in Ontario, with no exemptions. The page is viewable here:
http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/immunization/ispa.aspx . “Last Modified: 2014-04-16”
This web page makes no mention of vaccine exemptions available under the Immunization of School Pupils Act.
We would like to point out the Niagara Region Public Health website gives complete information regarding exemptions, and we believe all health units and the Ministry of Health should follow their template: Exemption from School Vaccinations http://www.niagararegion.ca/health/vaccinations/children/exemption.aspx
VRAN continues to request that the MOHLTC provide full details about exemptions on their website, press releases and printed materials and also provide a direct link to the Statement of Conscience and Religious Belief form on their website.
MOHLTC Response to VRAN Comment #2(b):
This ministry web link referred to in the comments above entitled “Immunizations for School Attendance” includes a link to a School Immunization Checklist which does refer to exemptions as follows:
“If your child requires an immunization exemption, please speak to your local public health unit. Note that children who are exempt from immunization are at increased risk and may be removed from school during a disease outbreak.”
VRAN Response to MOHLTC re: VRAN Comment #2(b):
The School Immunization Checklist is a PDF document. If a member of the public does not have a PDF reader on their computer they will not be able to view the exemption information, which is at the very end of the PDF document in a type size so small that some would require a magnifying glass to read the text. The “School Immunization Checklist” describes “New mandatory immunizations” in very large letters circled in red on the main page of the document. VRAN would like to emphasize that the Immunization of School Pupils Act does not use the word “mandatory” anywhere in the text, nor any word that implies immunization is compulsory. Use of the word “mandatory” in this document implies there is no choice, and further undermines the basic right to informed consent when considering immunization.
Also, the Immunization of School Pupils Act does not say that parents have to speak to their local public health unit to obtain an exemption, as the School Immunization Checklist describes. The MOHLTC is not providing readily accessible information about exemptions, or an accessible way for parents to obtain exemption forms.
VRAN continues to be contacted by the public regarding information from health units implying “mandatory immunizations”, here are two examples:
Waterloo Region Poster re: “Mandatory Immunizations Are Changing” – no mention of exemptions on this poster.
http://chd.region.waterloo.on.ca/en/researchResourcesPublications/resources/PHYSUP_MAR14.pdf (see page 3 for the poster)
Halton Region flyer re: Menactra – no mention of exemptions, and “Menactra will be mandatory like diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccines.”
VRAN would like to emphasize that If the MOHLTC was dedicated to fully informing the public and providing informed consent they would include exemption information and a links to the exemption forms on the “Immunization for School Attendance” page, as well as providing exemption details in a more prominent place on the “School Immunization Checklist” page.
Vaccine Exemption Forms Remain Hidden
Accessing the Statement of Conscience and Religious Belief form that parents are required to sign to obtain vaccine exemptions was discussed in our meeting with the MOHLTC. We reported that searching for the Statement of Conscience and Religious Belief was next to impossible, the MOHLTC responded, “The Ministry appreciates this feedback and will follow up with the administrator of the forms repository to discuss the search functionality.”
At the Central Forms Repository, we searched again on March 10, 2016 for “exemption” and only the medical exemption form came up on page 4 of the results. There was no link returned for the Statement of Conscience and Religious Belief form while searching for “exemption”.
Further searches (March 10, 2016) are as follows:
Search for “vaccine” returned no results.
Search for “vaccination” returned no results.
Search for “Vaccine exemption” returned no results.
Search for “immunization exemption” returned only the medical exemption form
Search for “immunization of school pupils” did return the Statement of Conscience and Religious Belief form
No changes have been made to the search feature at the Central Forms Repository. Parents will continue to have a difficult time finding the Statement of Conscience and Religious Belief form at the Ontario Forms Repository website.
Ministry of Health Deliberately Misleading Parents
Vaccine Choice Canada is regularly contacted by parents frustrated with information received from the MOHLTC, Provincial Health Units and Ontario schools.
The Ministry of Health seems to be deliberately trying to mislead parents at their Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Facebook page post which states – “To attend daycare and school in Ontario, kids need to be vaccinated.” A parent responded with this comment: “This post is not only misleading but also unconstitutional. The constitutional rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees every individual has the fundamental right to freedom of conscience and religious vaccine exemption; by law the Immunization of School Pupils Act is required to include these freedoms in its vaccine exemption clauses to protect the individual’s right to be exempted from vaccination. Vaccination of school age children is NOT mandatory in Ontario nor anywhere else in Canada.”
The Ministry of Health is also developing posts on blogs directed at mothers. One specific blog post on YummyMummyClub.ca titled “Advice from a Teacher on Getting Your Kid Kindergarten-Ready, Make the kindergarten experience great for you and your little one” – was “developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.” – yet there is deception in the blog post which states “kids must be immunized”:
“Stick to the immunization schedule: This one might be the most important of all. In order to attend school in Ontario, kids must be immunized against a whole slew of scary diseases. Most vaccines need more than one dose over time to produce full protection, so it’s important to follow the immunization schedule. Vaccinating your child also helps others. The more people who are immunized, the less likely an outbreak will occur. That means if we all do our part, we can decrease the risk that babies, or other people who cannot be immunized for medical reasons, will contract these devastating diseases. Keep your family and your community healthy by sticking to the schedule.”
“Education sessions” and “Counselling”
In December of 2015, the Ministry of Health announced that they would be bringing forward legislation to require “education sessions” for parents who wanted to exempt their children from vaccination for religious or conscientious reasons. According to MetroNews.ca, Ottawa Public Health is already boasting that parents in their area are already required to submit to “counselling”.
Counselling already required for parents opting out of vaccines, says OPH – The province is looking at introducing a new law aimed at parents who are anti-vaccine, but counselling is already required in Ottawa. – Metronews.ca – December 13, 2015 – The article states:
“A mandatory one-on-one counselling session for parents is already a requirement in Ottawa, said Marie-Claude Turcotte, manager of the Vaccine-Preventable Diseases program at Ottawa Public Health.
‘We want to make sure they get all that information before they make a decision,’ she said. ‘I think what the ministry wants to do with this announcement is to make sure it’s done consistently across the province and it’s a uniform education session.’
Parents filing an exemption for religious or non-medical reasons must fill out a legal document and submit it to public health. They must discuss the decision with Public Health and are informed of the risks and protocol if an outbreak occurs.”
We are unsure as to whether Ottawa has created their own law to force parents to submit to this one-on-one counselling, or if parents are being coerced against their will, which goes against informed consent laws in this province, a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Nuremberg Code, and the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights, Article 6 (Consent). We trust your office would find forced “education sessions” in absence of any legislation to be unacceptable.
Violations of Personal Health Information
Another issue to consider: schools enforce suspensions under the Immunization of School Pupils Act. School officials receive information from the local Health Units as to who to suspend. This article from CBC Kitchener-Waterloo describes how it happens: “Waterloo Region’s public health department has suspended 931 elementary students for failing to update their immunization records. ‘We sent the list to the school today,’ David Aoki, manager of immunization records, said Tuesday morning. ‘So, the schools will be enforcing the suspensions starting this morning.’” We are concerned about the confidentiality of Personal Health Information of Ontario students’ vaccination records.
Vaccine Choice Canada was recently contacted by a father who posted a video on YouTube titled “Vaccine Lies”. He wrote, “Hi there, I would like to share this video, it is a vice principal at my daughter’s school stating she must get up to date on immunization and claiming ‘it’s the law’. I’m very knowledgeable on the subject. This takes place in Guelph, Ontario, the school is GCVI.”
This video should raise some very serious questions. Are the school boards and school administration unaware of the ISPA exemptions? Are MOHLTC, local health units and the Ministry of Education advising the schools about availability of these legal exemptions?
A parent commented on the phone message from the Vice-Principal, stating “I wonder how the schools get to violate the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act to phone up strangers and casually disclose their child’s medical treatment status to a recording device that is not secure?”
Another parent commented, “This vice principal is either terribly misinformed or is being intentionally deceptive. Neither is acceptable.”
A Violation of Our Rights and Freedoms
Vaccine Choice Canada is contacted regularly by Ontario parents who feel bullied and threatened into vaccinating their children. Mr. Dubé, it is unacceptable for Ontario parents to be treated in this manner.
Any statement that vaccines are mandatory in Canada is misleading, deceptive, and a violation of our rights and freedoms protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mandatory vaccination is also a violation of the medical ethic of informed consent, a violation of the Nuremberg Code, and a violation of the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights – Article 6 – Consent.
“Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be expressed and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice.”
Currently all vaccines in Canada are voluntary. While Ontario’s schools can ask parents to provide evidence of vaccination, they cannot require vaccination as a requirement to attend school.
Professor Mary Holland, Research Scholar from the NYU School of Law, recently received a standing ovation after her talk, “United Nations on Vaccination Policies and Human Rights”, at the UN’s 25th International Health and Environment Conference on April 26, 2016: (Video part 1 and part 2)
“Following the medical precautionary principle, the default position for vaccination must be recommendations, not compulsion. Individuals, for themselves and their minor children, should have the right to accept or refuse these preventive medical interventions based on adequate information and without coercion, such as the threat of loss of economic or educational benefits. Informed consent must be the default position because compulsion, on its face, not only undermines trust, but limits the fundamental rights to life, liberty, bodily integrity, informed consent, privacy and to parental decision making.”
It is our contention that Ontario’s Minister of Health, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Ontario’s Ministry of Education, various schools, health units, and public health officers are intentionally misleading and deceiving Ontario parents and citizens with regard to their right to choice pertaining to vaccinations. This deceptive and dishonest behaviour needs to stop.
We ask that your office direct Ontario’s Minster of Health, Ministries of Health and Education, and related agencies to respect the rights of parents and citizens and cease and desist all efforts to mislead and deceive citizens. Further we request that your office direct Ontario’s ministries and agencies to respect a parent’s right to informed consent and provide easily accessible information with regard to legal vaccine exemptions.
While we are grateful that the Ombudsman Investigator in our initial complaint, James Nicholas, was able to encourage Ministry of Health staff to meet with our organization, these efforts failed to produce any meaningful changes in how the Ministry of Health informs parents on their rights to informed consent.
Finally, we have yet to receive any official correspondence from the Ombudsman’s office acknowledging our initial 2012 complaint. We look forward to receiving an acknowledgment of our initial and current complaint in writing by either e-mail or post.
We appreciate your time and attention to this matter of great concern to many Ontario parents.
Rita Hoffman, Ontario Resident and Vice-President, Vaccine Choice Canada
Edda West, Nelle Maxey, Ted Kuntz, Board of Directors of Vaccine Choice Canada
Cc: Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, Canada
Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health, Ontario
Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
Jeff Yurek, Ontario PC Health Critic
France Gelinas, Ontario NDP Health Critic
Attachment below: Further Examples of Exemption Information Being Suppressed or Excluded
On February 24, 2016, an Ottawa parent posted on Facebook, “Parents in Ottawa are being bullied by their school boards, informing them with letters that their child must have their vaccinations in order to attend school or be suspended. The school boards and media are failing to advise parents that PARENTS have the RIGHT to make health care decisions for their children, and make an INFORMED DECISION as to the risks and benefits of vaccines! Parents, do your homework and decide what is in the best interests of your child. Parents, you can CHOOSE not have your children vaccinated if you have a religious or conscience belief against vaccination if you are concerned about the risks. All you need to do is complete and notarize a Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief, and your children can attend school without being vaccinated.”
Keep our children healthy and our schools disease-free (pdf) – exemption information is not readable without a magnifying glass, on the bottom of page 2
A Note From Your School’s Public Health Nurse… – Banbury Heights Elementary School (Brant County Health Unit) – No mention of exemptions
Review of Immunization Records of Children Attending Schools – Elgin St. Thomas Public Health – “Your child may be suspended from school if the immnunization [sic] is not completed by the date indicated on the notice.” – No mention of exemptions
“Windsor Parent” Magazine Ad Dec. 15 – Jan 16 edition from the Windsor Essex County Health Unit – School Immunization Checklist – No mention of exemptions
Do you know if your child’s immunizations are up-to-date? – Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit via SharingSimcoe.com – “In Ontario, the law (Immunization of School Pupils Act) requires local health units to receive proof that specific immunizations are up to date for every child attending school.” – – November 17, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
To: Parents/Guardians of School Students(s) Re: Meningococcal Conjugate-ACYW134(Men-C-ACYW135) Mandatory – Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit – “As it is now mandatory…..” – 2015 – No mention of exemptions
A facility called the “Family House” in Ottawa produced a flyer available in the Summer of 2015, with “Attention … Ottawa Public Health is asking all parents to ensure their children’s immunization records are up to date! Any child who returns to school in September 2015 must have updated immunization records …. Parents must provide proof that their child has immunizations for the following …. “ – No mention of exemptions
Media Reports and Health Unit Press Releases Collected After Initial
The media obtains their information from Health Units and the MOHLTC. Media outlets continue to neglect to inform parents of their legal rights under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, misleading parents and the general public into thinking that vaccination is mandatory. In addition to the 85 articles we sent in our initial complaint, we provide the following:
3,000 local high school students face suspension for not having immunizations up to date – 570News.com – April 19, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
3,000 Waterloo Region teens receive suspension orders from public health – Students have three weeks to submit updated immunization records – CBC Kitchener-Waterloo – April 19, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
Scores of students without shots suspended – Quinte News – April 15, 2016 – No mention of exemptions in print or audio
‘Steady response’ to immunization letters – Brantford Expositor – April 7, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
2,000 students in Waterloo Region risk suspension due to old vaccination records – Students who do not update their information by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday will be suspended – CBC News Kitchener-Waterloo – April 4, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
More than 2,000 students could be suspended next week – CTV News Kitchener – March 31, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
Students sent home from school this week due to incomplete or out-of-date vaccination records – Thunder Bay News Watch – March 24, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
Health unit enforcing suspensions over immunizations – The Chronicle Journal – March 23, 2016 – No mention of exemptions – “For the 2014-15 school year, meningitis, pertussis and chickenpox were added to the list of diseases children must be vaccinated against.”
Immunization checks complete for 150,000 Ottawa students – 7,800 total suspension notices were sent out in batches since December – CBC Ottawa – March 18, 2016 – No mention of exemptions – “The agency embarked on the upgrade of its electronic records, which required extra staff, because it is legally obliged to monitor students’ records and make sure they’ve had the shots required to attend school.”
Non-immunized students suspended – North Bay Nugget – March 18, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
Student immunization final date is near – Quinte News – March 15, 2016 – “Hastings and Prince Edward public health officials have sent out the second notices for students in danger of school suspension because they lack immunization.” No mention of exemptions in audio or text of this article
Suspension notices issued for students behind with immunizations – Countylive.ca – March 14, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
Why vaccinate? – CHCH.com – March 14, 2016 – No mention of exemptions in audio or print “Vaccines are back in the news with Halton and other jurisdictions imposing a must be vaccinated rule for all students or face suspension …”
20,000 students could be suspended for missing vaccination records – CTV Kitchener – February 29, 2016 – No mention of exemptions in video or text of this article and quotes Dr. Hoskins as saying “if you want to go to school you better roll up your sleeve.” And Dr. Hoskins says vaccines are “mandatory” in the video.
Students face suspension due to out of date immunization records – 630CHED.com – February 29, 2016 – No mention of exemptions – “At a news conference this morning, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins commented the action being taken by public health units. ‘I know a number of units are making available clinics’ said Hoskins, ‘I would encourage parents to do that, it is a legal requirement.’ The Ontario Health Ministry says all children aged 14 to 17 must be immunized according to Ontario’s Immunization Schedule.”
Huron County Parents Advised to Review Their Child’s Immunizations – Blackburnnews.com – February 2, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
3,000 Brantford-area students still need to provide proof of immunization – Brantford Expositor – January 22, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
Public Health Warns School Suspensions Could Happen To Students With Incomplete Immunization Records – Are Your Child’s Immunization Records Up-to-Date? – Public Health warns students with incomplete immunization records may be suspended – Guelph Now – January 22, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
Few family doctors forward immunization records to Elgin St. Thomas Public Health – St. Thomas Times-Journal – January 19, 2016 – No mention of exemptions – “Elgin St. Thomas Public Health’s annual student vaccination record review is well underway and the message is clear, get your shots or get out.”
Health unit warns of suspensions – North Bay Nugget – January 13, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
Health unit can suspend students from school for out-of-date vaccination records – Thunder Bay News Watch – January 12, 2016 – No mention of exemptions
Unvaccinated students suspended in Ontario – North Country Public Radio – December 16, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
Ottawa Public Health suspends 900 Catholic school students over immunization records – Suspensions will be for up to 20 days or until health agency receives proof of immunization – CBC Ottawa – December 15, 2015 – misleading headline
Ottawa Public Health seeking up-to-date immunization information for school children – Ottawa Start – December 10, 2015 – no mention of exemptions
As suspensions loom, Ottawa Public Health offers ‘catch-up’ vaccine clinics – 5,000 students warned to get vaccinated or face suspension – CBC Ottawa – December 10, 2015 – misleading headline
Bringing the hammer down on immunization records – Simcoe Reformer – December 3, 2015 – No mention of exemptions – “’Next year we are going to bring the hammer down,’ said Rose Huyge, program co-ordinator for school health for the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.”
Threat of suspensions ramps up vaccination rates – Diseases once eradicated in North America making comeback – Niagara This Week – November 25, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
Hamilton Public Health reminds parents to update students’ vaccinations records – Suspensions possible if not current – Flamborough Review – October 27, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
School suspensions possible for kids who don’t have their shots – video – CTV News Windsor – September 18, 2015 – Religious and medical exemptions mentioned, but not for reasons of conscience. Link to the print article: Health unit warns of suspensions for unvaccinated students
School suspensions possible for kids who don’t have their shots – Windsor Star – September 18, 2015 – Religious and medical exemptions mentioned, but not for reasons of conscience.
Students get another reprieve on immunization – Cambridge Times – September 16, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
Sudbury dad Mark Nyman says daughter nearly expelled from school over vaccine-tracking glitch – Problem caused by new immunization computer system, which had duplicate files – CBC Sudbury – September 11, 2015 – “The province requires all schoolchildren to be vaccinated.” – not true.
Canadian doctors call for vaccination proof before entering school – Radio Canada International – August 27, 2015 – “Only two provinces in Canada mandate children to be vaccinated in order to attend school; Ontario and New Brunswick. In other provinces, vaccination of children prior to school entry is voluntary. The Ontario Immunization of School Pupils Act requires vaccination against a range of diseases, including: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (also known as whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal disease and varicella (chickenpox). Proof of immunization against meningococcal disease, whooping cough and chickenpox were added as requirements for the 2014-2015 academic year.” – No mention of exemptions
CMA calls for proof of vaccinations before children can be enrolled in school – National Post – August 25, 2015 – “Only Ontario and New Brunswick have laws mandating children receive the full schedule of recommended shots, although exemptions are allowed for medical reasons, or on religious grounds.” – Article does not mention exemptions for conscientious reasons
“Fantastic response’ in Brantford and Brant County to vaccination request – Brantford Expositor – August 25, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
Have you vaccinated your child? CMA calls for proof before kids go to school – Global News – August 24, 2015 – “New Brunswick and Ontario require proof of immunization. Nova Scotia does not. Health Minister Leo Glavine said he is looking into it.” – No mention of exemptions
Thousands of Ottawa schoolchildren without proper vaccination records – CFRA.com – July 21, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
Health unit asks for immunization records – Law does not require health care providers to send records – Sudbury Northern Life – June 23, 2015 – No mention of exemptions – “Three weeks after the initial letter, the health unit mails out a second letter, reminding parents and guardians they have three weeks to get their children vaccinated – or send proof of their vaccinations – or they will be suspended from school.”
400 Students Face Suspension – Health Unit warns students without updated immunization face suspension in May – Bayshore Broadcasting – April 29, 2015 – No mention of exemptions in audio or the print article
School Suspensions Almost Over – 69 suspended Grey-Bruce students will be at school after immunization updates. – Bayshore Broadcasting – April 26, 2015 – No mention of exemptions in audio or the print article
Grey-Bruce Students Submit Immunization Records, No Suspensions – Blackburnnews.com – April 24, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
Vaccinations Continue – Peterborough Examiner – April 1, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
Health Unit Issues Suspension Notices – Bayshore Broadcasting – March 27, 2015 – No mention of exemptions – “Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hazel Lynn, says ‘all students must be up-to-date with immunizations in order to provide a safe school environment for everyone and reduce the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks.’”
Huron County urges students to get up-to-date on immunizations – Huron Expositor – February 10, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
Oxford County children must roll up their sleeves or face suspension – Woodstock Sentinel-Review – February 5, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
About 1,000 Oxford kids threatened with suspension – CTV News London – February 4, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
Religion grounds for vaccination refusal: Province – St. Thomas Times Journal – February 3, 2015 and Toronto Sun – February 2, 2015 – Article mentions religious exemptions only – no mention of exemptions for reasons of conscience – “Ontario only allows parents to opt out of mandatory measles vaccination for their children in very limited circumstances, Health Minister Eric Hoskins says.”
Unimmunized Waterloo Region students won’t be suspended this year – CTV Kitchener – January 15, 2015 – No mention of exemptions in video or text
Suspensions for non-immunized students put on hold – 570News.com – January 15, 2015 – No mention of exemptions
9 immunizations required in Ontario schools – Immunization has rendered most vaccine-preventable diseases so uncommon that many Canadians don’t know much about them. – Toronto Star – October 30, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Keep vaccinations updated – Simcoe Reformer – September 10, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
New immunization requirements for schools – Goderich Signal Star – September 9, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
New immunizations required for students heading back to class – CTV London – August 27, 2014 – No mention of exemptions in video or text of story
Have a child in an Ontario school? What you need to know about vaccines – Global News – August 20, 2014 – No mention of exemptions in video or text of story
Making sure their students have all their shots – Oshawa Express – August 20, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Three shots added to student vaccination list – Brampton Guardian – August 16, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Three more vaccines required for Durham students – Government’s new legislation includes vaccines against chicken pox, whooping cough – Durhamregion.com – August 13, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Are your child’s vaccinations current? If not, they may not be able to go to school this September – Peterborough health unit warns that changes to the law now mean that children must be vaccinated against meningococcal disease, whooping cough and chickenpox to attend school – Peterborough This Week via MyKawartha.com – July 30, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Health unit pleased with vaccine record response from parents – news release from Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit – July 2, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Kids Need Additional Vaccinations – Bayshore Broadcasting – June 30, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Thousands of students face suspension as province expands list of mandatory vaccines – Northumberland News & Brampton Guardian – May 6, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
National Immunization Awareness Week: Vaccines are Your Best Defence – Posted by Middlesex-London Health Unit on April 25, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Ontario to tighten immunization rules for school kids – CanIndia.com – April 25, 2014 – No Mention of exemptions
Measles and three more childhood disease inoculations required: MOH – Northumberland Today – April 21, 2014 – No mention of conscientious exemptions
Why your child may need more vaccinations before the new school year – MyKawartha.com – April 20, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
This week in health: Mandatory vaccines, brutal allergies and more – Canada.com – April 18, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Ontario imposes new mandatory vaccinations for students – Toronto Sun – April 16, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Ont. Health Minister slams Jenny McCarthy for anti-vaccine stance – CityNews – April 16, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
New immunization legislation kicks in this fall – Ottawa Sun – April 16, 2014 – No mention of exemptions, “Mandatory immunizations and dose requirements are being implemented by the province starting this fall.”
Ontario toughens up vaccine rules for kids going back to school in fall – CTV News Barrie – April 16, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
Suspensions fall off as elementary students respond to vaccination blitz – Cambridge Times – March 28, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
More than 500 students suspended for non-immunization – Cambridge Times – March 27, 2014 – No mention of exemptions
526 Waterloo elementary students suspended for lacking immunization records – Hamilton Spectator – March 27, 2014
Hundreds of students suspended from school for inadequate immunizations – March 26, 2014 – CTV News Kitchener
Students told to be immunized or face suspension – Cambridge Times – Feb. 11, 2014 – No mention of exemptions. When we e-mailed the reporter to ask if he was advised by the Health Unit about exemptions he replied, “The people at Waterloo Region Health made no mention of any exemptions for medical or religious reasons.”
Read response from Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott here (pdf)
Read Vaccine Choice Canada’s response to Health Minister Philpott’s response here (pdf)
Additional media example (Huffington Post) sent via e-mail to the Ombudsman’s office on June 13, 2016 (PDF)
Additional media examples sent via e-mail to the Ombudsman’s office on August 26, 2016:
C-K health unit will be sending out consent forms at start of school year – Chatham Daily News – August 16, 2016 – no mention of exemptions
Immunization reminder – CHCH.com – August 22, 2016 – no mention of exemptions
Read our November 2012 Complaint to the Ontario Ombudsman here.