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Tribunal rejects northern Ont. woman’s complaint that masking rules violated her human rights

A Timmins-area woman who was refused access to a medical appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic because she refused to wear a mask has lost her human rights complaint. (File) A Timmins-area woman who was refused access to a medical appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic because she refused to wear a mask has lost her human rights complaint. (File)
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A Timmins-area woman who was refused access to a medical appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic because she refused to wear a mask has lost her human rights complaint.

The woman appealed to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, claiming the Victorian Order of Nurses in Timmins discriminated against her because of her creed and a disability.

The incident took place in 2021. The woman arrived at the appointment for her children at the VON clinic, where visitors were required to be masked.

When told that pandemic rules meant she and her children had to be masked, she refused, and disputed whether they were really required to cover up.

“The applicant alleges that, because neither the applicant nor her children would wear a mask, they were ultimately refused entry and their appointments cancelled,” the decision from the human rights tribunal.

The woman filed a complaint with the tribunal, claiming she and her children had been discriminated against based on “creed and disability.”

But the tribunal said she presented no evidence whatsoever that she has a disability. And when describing her creed, the woman said, “I do not claim any religion but a relationship with our Almighty Lord in Heaven.”

She also said that in scripture, covering your face “signifies shame and humiliation.”

“But the applicant does not explain why wearing a mask in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic would conflict with her claimed creed,” the tribunal said.

The woman insisted that not wearing a mask didn’t put anyone at risk and asserted the debunked claim that “there is damning evidence, however, that support the harmful effects of wearing a mask and that they do not work to protect against COVID-19.”

Not every belief is a creed

Regardless of the accuracy of the claim, the tribunal ruled that “this contention does not appear connected to the applicant’s creed.”

Further, the woman’s claim doesn’t point out any “specific acts of discrimination” under the human rights code in Ontario.

“Not every belief, opinion, expression, practice or matter of conscience is a creed under the code,” the tribunal said.

“For your application to continue, you are required to identify your creed within the meaning of the code and explain how it interferes with your ability to wear a mask.”

She asserted that any creed is “forming your own opinion. According to scripture, I cannot wear a mask.”

But the tribunal said that wasn’t enough.

“The applicant does not explain why her creed would not support her wearing a mask at a medical facility in the context of an infectious disease pandemic,” the decision said.

“To come within the tribunal’s jurisdiction, the applicant must provide some factual basis to link the respondent’s conduct to their code-enumerated grounds.”

The application was dismissed. 

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