Sask. human rights code won't accommodate people refusing vaccination due to 'personal preference'

·2 min read
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code does not protect those who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 just because they don't want to, according to the province’s human rights commission. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code does not protect those who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 just because they don't want to, according to the province’s human rights commission. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 due to "personal preference" doesn't have protection under the province's human rights code, according to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC).

"An individual who chooses not to be vaccinated based on personal preference does not have the right to accommodation under the Code," the SHRC says.

The Saskatchewan government's proof of vaccination or negative test requirement is set to take effect across the province starting Friday. It applies to all provincial and Crown corporation employees, along with anyone looking to enter certain businesses, event venues and other establishments.

Ahead of the implementation, the SHRC wrote a post on its website last week reminding people that vaccine mandates requiring proof of immunization or negative testing are "generally permissible" under the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code — "so long as individuals who are unable to be vaccinated due to a Code-protected characteristic are reasonably accommodated."

The code prohibits discrimination based on the following characteristics:

  • Race/perceived race or colour.

  • Place of origin, nationality or ancestry.

  • Religion or creed.

  • Family or marital status.

  • Sexual orientation.

  • Gender identity.

  • Sex, including sexual harassment or pregnancy.

  • Disability (physical or mental).

  • Receipt of public assistance.

  • Age (18 or more).

People who are not able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine — such as those with certain disabilities — are required under the code to have reasonable accommodations from their employers and service providers, the SHRC said, noting that's when testing requirements could come into play.

"Reasonable accommodation will differ on a case-by-case basis," it said.

Those who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons should be prepared to show a supporting doctor's note, the SHRC added.

The commission said it plans to investigate any complaints of discrimination based on the code's "protected characteristics," but will not be accepting any that cite a personal objection to vaccinations or vaccination mandates.

Collecting information about a person's vaccination status is also not protected by the code, the commission noted. However, it said such info needs to be gathered and stored according to privacy legislation.

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