Health rights advocate vows to fight against discrimination of Canadians who go without COVID-19 vaccination

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      A natural health rights advocate fears that Canadians who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 will be treated as social outcasts.

      Susan Stanfield feels concerned that even though the country has no mandatory vaccination policy, those who go without taking the jab will be isolated and shunned even by their own peers.

      In an online video, the B.C. woman said that people like members of her family, who rely on their natural immunity, wouldn’t be allowed to do such things as going to the grocery.

      “Can you imagine it’s almost like we have to go into a different room or down a different hallway?” Standfield asked.

      In the same video, the advocate talked about a need for a national coalition to protect the rights of people who go without vaccination.

      “We are now a vulnerable class of people,” Standfield said. “We are a class of people that are discriminated against.”

      Standfield said that she would call the group she is forming as the Coalition of Unvaccinated Canadian Humans or COUCH.

      She said that ‘couch’ may sound “silly”, but it sends the message for people to “get off the couch” and do something.

      Born and raised in Vancouver, Standfield is now based in Chilliwack. She is a mother to two kids. She was educated at Queen’s University, where she studied political science.

      During this pandemic, Standfield has been involved in protests against masks and lockdowns.

      When reached by phone, Standfield said that the current restrictions mark the “beginning of the normalization of discrimination”.

      “It has been happening for a year,” Standfield told the Straight.

      She said that things are going to get worse for people who decline to get vaccinated.

      “I can’t even imagine how much worse this will get if you don’t use a vaccine,” Standfield said.

      There is much talk about vaccine certificates or passports that would allow people to show proof of vaccination as a requirement to access nues and services.

      The Canadian Civil Liberties Association commented about mandatory vaccinations in an online post on December 10, 2020.

      A portion read:

      The initial stigma of HIV/AIDs was a tragic case study of public shaming and discrimination.  We have already seen the damaging stigma that has attached to people who have tested positive for COVID. Those who have questioned some of the public health measures – and those who, for various reasons, are not able to comply – are also facing harsh criticism and marginalization. The small minority of people who cannot wear a mask, for example, have not only been denied services, but also vilified and demonized. In Newfoundland, a province that closed its “borders” to other Canadians, locals who work out of province are being shamed and threatened on social media when they return home; some suggest they should not be allowed to return to their families or that their families should be isolated with them. 

      In another portion of the post, the CCLA noted that no law has been proposed regarding mandatory vaccination:

      All of this talk is not only premature – it trivializes and downplays a significant rights issue at a time when our freedoms are already being suppressed in ways previously unimaginable. At the moment, what we don’t know about the vaccine could fill a phone book.  We don’t know how many people will take a vaccine voluntarily and we don’t know how many of us need to take it to achieve herd immunity. We don’t know how long it will be effective, precisely how it will work, or how much our country or province will get. 

      The post concluded:

      We should be searching neither for new ways to divide us, nor increased fearmongering.  We could instead drill down on how best to achieve public health goals while also respecting personal freedom and choice.

      The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms on April 22, 2021 posted a commentary online about mandatory vaccination.

      The Calgary-based public interest law firm wrote:

      Canadians have the right to give their voluntary, informed consent to any medical treatment.

      Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guaranteed rights to liberty and security of the person cannot be denied except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. This gives us autonomy over choices that impact on our own physical or psychological integrity. When a requirement is overbroad, and interferes with liberty and security of the person in ways that bear no connection to its objective, then it can be said to be contrary to principles of fundamental justice.

      The Justice Centre also wrote that it supports letting people make decisions about their own health:

      In a free country, individuals have the right to decide what is best for their own health. That includes being free to obtain and consider a wide range of information about all potential medical treatments and their benefits and risks, and having the right to make their own decisions accordingly—including saying no to a vaccine.

      Going back to Standfield, the advocate said that it is wrong to treat people as “second-class citizens” just because they do not want to take the vaccine.

      Discriminating people who choose not to be vaccinated means taking society "backwards".

      “It’s as if we’re stopping Black people from going into grocery stores or we’re stopping gay people from eating in restaurants,” Standfield said.