Parents sue Quebec over Covid decree banning unvaccinated teens from sports
More than 100 families from across Quebec – including some from Laval – are suing the provincial government over a National Assembly decree which forbids their children from taking part in extra-curricular group sports or physical activities if they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The families who have signed on maintain that the fundamental rights of their children are being violated by the government’s insistence their teenage children must have vaccine passports.
National Assembly decree
The decree, which was passed by the National Assembly on Sept. 1, effectively forbids children 13 years of age and older from taking part in sports competitions, in organized leagues or in tournaments.
The claim, filed at the Montreal courthouse last month, maintains that the decree unjustifiably impedes upon several of their children’s fundamental rights and liberties and that it thus must be declared non-applicable in part.
“Basically, it’s an action about the vaccine passports, but only for the teenagers who are 13 to 17 years,” says Me William Desrochers, a lawyer in Gatineau QC who is representing the parents. “What the decree says is that you cannot do anything that falls outside the regular school program.
Limited in taking part
“So, if you’re in a sports/study program and you’re doing maybe volleyball, then you can do physical education, you can do volleyball six or eight hours a week. But once you have a competition on a Saturday, you cannot go. If you have an extra practice on a Monday night, you cannot go.
“And it’s not only that. If you can’t do the practice with the team, they’re not going to put you in the front position – you’re not going to be the quarterback on the football team if you can’t play. You end up being left out or only in practice or even sitting on the bench. It’s something that’s extremely hard on these kids and we feel that the decree is an infringement of several human rights and not reasonable under the circumstances.”
Is it reasonable and why?
Among the issues the lawsuit hopes to raise is the scientific validity of the government’s insisting that all school children must be vaccinated in order to fully participate in the sports programs.
‘It’s something that’s extremely hard on these kids,’ says Me William Desrochers who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the parents
“We understand or we believe that the vaccination rate is pretty high,” Desrochers added. “Sometimes if you’re in a program in school, you might have one kid who is not vaccinated. So, how is it so important that this kid must be vaccinated at all cost? That is the question: Is it reasonable and why? That is the question we’re raising here.”
Case to be heard by May
Desrochers said he expected the case to be heard by next May, hopefully with a decision rendered before the beginning in the fall of 2022 of the next school year.
In the meantime, he said the parents were pleased with the government’s announcement that mandatory vaccine passports would not be demanded for younger students.
“Still, for 13 to 17 years old it still raises the question as to why is it okay for them, but it’s not okay for the five or eleven or twelve-year-olds,” he said.