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MB's vaccine incentives monitored by Human Rights Commission

By: Harry Callaghan
Posted: June 11, 2021 09:10

Concerns about incentives and possible discrimination

Image - Manitoba Human Rights Commission

The province's COVID vaccination incentive programs are being monitored by the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

In a news release, "The Manitoba Human Rights Commission reminds governments, employers, service providers and landlords to use vaccination identification cards, mandatory vaccine policies and vaccination incentives in a manner that complies with human rights obligations."

The commission says "requiring individuals to produce proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to access employment, public services or housing could result in discrimination based on the following Code-protected grounds:

- Disability; 
- Religious Belief; 
- Political Belief; 
- Social Disadvantage; and
- Age"

It also says "requiring individuals to be vaccinated and produce proof of vaccine may also negatively impact individuals who cannot equitably access vaccination and other public health resources for reasons related to disadvantage, including houselessness and poverty.  Moreover, where individuals are required to produce valid photo identification along with proof of vaccine, barriers to access may be magnified due to challenges in accessing photo identification."

"The Commission is also mindful that imposing identification requirements can result in adverse effects for communities that are more disproportionately impacted by carding, 
profiling or other identification requirements, such as Black, Indigenous and people of colour and people with disabilities. Where mandatory vaccine and vaccine identification requirements are put in place, these requirements must be justifiable to be permissible under human rights law, mandatory vaccination requirements, or the  use of vaccination identification, must satisfy the standard set out by the Supreme Court of Canada."

The three-part standard requires that:

1. The requirement for vaccination has a rational connection to the employment or provision of the service;
2. The requirement for vaccination be adopted in an honest and good faith belief that it is necessary to the fulfillment of a legitimate employment or service-related purpose;
3. The requirement for vaccination is reasonably necessary for the purpose of service provision. This requires evidence that the requirement was imposed on the basis of real evidence, not speculation; that the requirement is designed to minimize the burden on employees or service users; that the requirement does not treat one particular group more harshly than others without justification; and that alternatives approaches to the vaccine requirement were investigated and considered but could not be adopted without incurring undue hardship. In other words, the requirement for vaccination / vaccination identification must “incorporate every possible accommodation to the point of undue hardship, 
whether that hardship takes the form of impossibility, serious risk or excessive cost”.

For more information on COVID-19 and discrimination visit www.manitobahumanrights.ca 

On Tuesday, Manitoba unveiled proof-of-immunization cards for everyone who has had two doses of the COVID vaccine. The card means you won't have to self-isolate for two weeks when returning from inter-provincial travel - and you'll be able to enjoy longer visits at personal care homes and hospitals.

They're available in both digital and physical form and contain your name and a scanning code - there's no other personal health information. Premier Brian Pallister left open the possibility of using the cards to access to major sporting events, museums and other facilities.

On Wednesday, Pallister also announced a lottery for all people who have received two doses as a way to boost vaccination rates.

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