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The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that a mother was at liberty to vaccinate her two children against COVID-19 over the objections of their father

Alberta

,

Canada

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Ruled That a Mother Was at Liberty to Vaccinate Her Two Children against COVID-19 over the Objections of Their Father In this case, the parents had enjoyed shared parenting and joint decision-making regarding medical and health-related matters. While they had tried, over a number of months, to resolve the issue of vaccination, they were unable to come to a unified decision. Unfortunately, over the course of those months, the children were exposed by their father to vaccine misinformation and age-inappropriate vaccine-related material. The children’s legal counsel recommended vaccination.In their ruling, Kubic J.C. addressed the following issues:whether the mother should be the sole decision-maker in relation to health and medical matters;whether it was in the children’s best interests to be vaccinated against COVID-19;whether a letter to the court from counsel for the children should be sealed on the court fileThe Court made judicial note of several commonly understood facts, including that Canada had been in the midst of a prolonged global pandemic caused by the SARs-CoV-2 virus, and also noted that Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health had recommended vaccination. The Court declared that this information was preferable to the documentation provided by the father, which was at turns irrelevant, non-peer reviewed, and/or non-scientific. As the parents had joint-decision making capacity, the onus was on the mother to prove that a material change in circumstances had occurred since the making of the joint custody order (as it was called then). Citing Young v Young, the Court stated that “…the child has a right to a parent who will look after his or her best interest… and ensure, protect and promote the child’s best interests. That duty includes… the responsibility to oversee all aspects of day-to-day life and long-term well-being.”Kubik J. enumerated a number of specific reasons all generally related to the reliability of the vaccine, the recommendations of provincial and national health experts, and the consensus of the scientific community on the subject of vaccination, and additionally placed great focus on the best interests of the mental, emotional, and physical health of the children before making an order that the mother, thenceforth, was to have sole decision making authority in relation to health and medical matters;the mother was free to vaccinate the children against COVID-19 at such time as she deemed appropriate; and thatthe letter to the Court from the children’s counsel was to be sealed on the court file, as it contained private information which was communicated to the Court solely for the purpose of establishing the best interests of the childrenFurthermore, the Court ordered that the father was not to discuss, nor permit any third party to discuss matters relating to the vaccine or the COVID-19 pandemic in general with the children, as they had become anxiety-ridden and fearful of the vaccine due to the misinformation he had shared with them. He was specifically banned from supplying them with information gleaned from social media

April 14, 2022
TRB v KWPB, 2021 ABQB 997