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Religion trumps medical claims to COVID vaccine exemptions

Religion trumps medical claims to COVID vaccine exemptions

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You might be surprised at the reasons workers are asking employers for COVID-19 vaccine exemptions.

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James Fu, a partner at Toronto law firm Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) with offices across Canada, says that as more Canadian companies introduce mandatory vaccination policies, medical exemption requests from employees are a small minority.

Instead, those based on religious beliefs or beliefs make up the vast majority.

“The reason we see religious versus medical (reason) is because medical (exemption) usually requires a medical note or medical evidence from a doctor or even a specialist practitioner,” Fu said.

“And most, if not all, many governing bodies of physicians and public health have indicated very stipulated grounds on what constitutes a valid exemption from having the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to the fact that the CPSO (College of Physicians and Surgeons Ontario) expects that only certain medical professionals and for certain reasons should provide notes to people.

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Fu said some kind of allergic reaction or an episode of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (swelling and irritation of the thin sac-like tissue surrounding the heart) from the vaccine are the main reasons for a medical exemption. .

“It’s, generally speaking, quite limited,” Fu said.

Regarding religious exemptions, Fu said there are various “model letters” that can be found online to support them, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily valid.

“Just because an employer receives a sample letter doesn’t mean it’s important that the attorney doesn’t reject it out of hand,” Fu said.

“It remains to be seen whether this is a valid religious exemption. And the challenge, I think, with religious exemptions is that there aren’t a lot of courses on, “Well, how do you assess someone’s religious exemption?” This puts many people in an awkward position when evaluating it. But you still have to do it. »

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Of course, says Fu, there is a legal test for this.

“A person must establish that he has a sincere practice or belief that is related to religion and calls for a particular course of action. In fact, a denominational call to refuse vaccination against the coronavirus.

Fu says there are a “very limited” number of religions that ban mandatory vaccines, including the Dutch Reformed Church and the Church of Christ, Scientist, citing a recent study by Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“I think the pope just a few days ago indicated that it was a moral obligation to get vaccinated,” Fu said.

“(The Vanderbilt study) indicates that most religions have no ban on vaccination. That is why it is quite rare even for a request for a religious exemption. It must be sincerely held. In the evaluation of sincerity is usually by a consistent manifestation in the daily conduct of the person, so in other words it is a consistent demonstration that this person is following that faith and it is not just limited to vaccination against the coronavirus.

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