“The court released its decision in the lawsuit brought by five Western students against the university for its collection of personal health information under Western’s COVID-19 vaccine booster policy,” The Democracy Fund informed the public late Saturday, September 24.
The Democracy Fund is a registered Canadian charity that serves to defend fundamental rights of Canadians across the country.
Recently, following Western University’s decision to require all of its students and staff to be triple-vaccinated and wear medical-grade masks on campus, TDF, along with 5 students, brought a lawsuit against the university. The lawsuit argued that Western’s collection of personal data, which is done through the collection of students’ vaccination status, breaches their right to privacy
“At issue in this application is whether the respondent University of Western Ontario (“Western”) can lawfully collect proof of vaccination from its campus community in order to implement and enforce the university’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (the “Policy”),” reads TDF’s lawsuit.
“The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F. 31 (“FIPPA”) protects the privacy of individuals with respect to personal health information about themselves held by institutions. Pursuant to s. 38(2) of FIPPA, Western shall not collect personal information unless the collection is necessary to the proper administration of a lawfully authorized activity.”
The Democracy Fund argues in the lawsuit that due to the “Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” it is unjust for the university to make it mandatory for students to submit a proof of vaccination. “The applicants claim Western’s collection of the proof of vaccine under the Policy is a violation of section 38(2) of FIPPA,” the lawsuit reads.
“The applicants contend that proof of vaccination is not necessary to Western’s activities because the province no longer requires it,” it continues. “They contend that Western is an ‘outlier’ in the post-secondary institutional community in this province through continuing a vaccine mandate with proof of vaccination.”
Mark Joseph, a lawyer for TDF representing the five students, offered his thoughts on the court’s decision to dismiss this lawsuit.
It’s disheartening that we are still in this inconceivable place in Canada.
— Dr. Julie Ponesse (@DrJuliePonesse) September 24, 2022
“We’re disappointed in the outcome, but we respect the Court’s decision,” Joseph explained. “We believe strongly in students’ privacy rights, so we’re reviewing it carefully now to decide whether to bring an appeal.”
The court explained its decision by mentioning that it does “not accept that the Policy will “force” members of the university community to disclose their personal information.”
“I am also not persuaded that a disposal order is warranted in the circumstances,” the statement as for why a dismissal was decided explains.
“The relief sought is broad. The applicants did not provide any authority in support of this relief. The applicants confirmed on the hearing of the application that they want all proof of vaccine information collected by Western to be destroyed. The court does not comprehend any reasonable basis for such a broad order. Among other issues, proof of vaccine information in the 2021-2022 year was collected pursuant to the province’s mandate.”
Protests continue to be organized at the university’s campus and around the university by groups that oppose mandates.
Western University’s student council still hasn’t provided a statement about the dismissal of the lawsuit.