Baker McKenzie represented McMaster University in defending its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy on judicial review. Four Applicants asked for an exemption from the University’s mandatory vaccination policy, citing religious and conscience grounds. The University refused their exemption requests, claiming no connection between their religious beliefs and refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Applicants challenged the University’s authority to implement the policy. They also claimed the University breached their human rights and that the University’s process for evaluating their claims was unfair and biased. The Court dismissed all of the Applicants’ claims. It also highlighted how diligent and fair the University’s processes and representatives were in creating a review process and evaluating applications under it.
This is the first case in the Ontario courts to deal with the issue on the merits instead of through injunctive relief. This decision also has sector-wide implications as every University and College in Ontario has some form of mandatory vaccination policy.
The Baker McKenzie team advising McMaster University was George Avraam, Ahmed Shafey and Ajanthana Anandarajah, with special assistance from Juliette Mestre and Eleanor Dennis.
For more detail, read the Law Times article McMaster University wins judicial review over removal of students for refusing COVID-19 vaccine.