Political opinion about masks doesn’t appeal to safety on the idea of creed

A recent decision by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) may support school authorities, many of which have received mask waiver requests based on a parent’s “sincere belief” that their child should not be needed Wearing masks because they are ineffective or have health effects.

In the Sharma v City of Toronto case, 2020 HRTO 949 (CanLII), applicant Sharma alleged that the City of Toronto Statute 541-2020 required that members of the public who enter a public building wear a mask or face covering Seeking to reduce the spread of SARS-COV-2 (coronavirus) has been a violation of his rights under the Code of Human Rights (the “Code”) based on creeds and disabilities.

While the tribunal’s decision was dismissed in summary because the application against the city of Toronto had no reasonable chance of success (it was individual companies, not the city, that denied the applicant access), the tribunal examined the grounds on which the applicant relied .

The complainant alleged that he could not wear a mask for the following reason:

[3]My creed does not agree to cover my face on unsubstantiated claims. Claims that masks prevent or stop the spread of Sars-Cov-2 (also commonly known as coronavirus) are not supported by scientific evidence (e.g., expert-verified randomized control studies). Instead, the City of Toronto loosely refers to anecdotes of “masks work” – this is not evidence. My creed requires that I not blindly accept what governments or authorities claim, mandate, or translate into law (or statutes). Instead, it is my civic duty to criticize the government and its decisions. Statute 541-2020 makes no exception to the creed.

The complainant also alleged that he had a disability that prevented him from wearing a mask and that he was under no obligation to disclose the disability when seeking services without a mask.

The tribunal ruled that the applicant’s objection was not in the sense of a creed under the Code. The creed is not defined in the code. For the most part, however, the creed has been labeled as a sincere religious belief or practice. While the case law of the Tribunal has left open the possibility of using the Code to protect a recognizable coherent political belief system or structure, the judge in this case found that this is a mere political opinion Not Use creed as protected ground according to the code.

Therefore, the applicant’s belief that the effectiveness of masks has not been proven did not result in a creed set out in the code. The tribunal ruled that the applicant should enter into political contact with the city’s elected officials.

Regarding the applicant’s position that he should not be required to disclose his disability in seeking services, the tribunal found that

[20]The placement process is a shared responsibility. This means that a cooperative exchange of information must take place. Many diseases are invisible. According to the Human Rights Act, in order to fulfill the duty of placement, a person must determine that he or she has disability-related needs that require placement. In the context of the Articles of Association, this means that if a person is interviewed, they must establish to a company that they have an illness or any other reason that requires accommodation that relieves them of the company’s obligation to wear a mask carry.

[21] It is important to note, however, that the statutes and human rights law in general do not require that a person seeking shelter disclose that they have a specific medical diagnosis. In some cases, a person seeking accommodation may need to provide information to assess their accommodation needs.

The Tribunal also noted that in relation to publicly available companies, the Articles of Association do not require individuals to provide evidence of exemption.

While the many statutes that have been enacted in the province of Ontario regarding the wearing of masks in places accessed by the public do not apply to schools that are not public places, this case helps illustrate that the assumption that Masks are ineffective or otherwise inappropriate, Whether held sincere, no protection under the Code based on creeds will be sought.

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