In A.C. v. L.L., 2021 ONSC 6530, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice considered whether to order the parties’ 14-year-old triplets to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Two of the three children, P, and J, lived with their father, while the third, E, lived with his mother. P and J attend virtual school and E attends in-person school.
The mother brought a motion mandating P and J to attend in-person school. The father took the position that P and J will attend in-person schooling once they are vaccinated. The father brought a cross-motion for an order that the mother provides a copy of P and J’s health cards to the father and that P, J, and E be entitled to receive the COVID-19 vaccination if they choose to do so.
Charney J. noted that the applicable test for whether the children should be vaccinated is based on the best interests of the children (para 12).The government’s conclusion that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 12-17 to prevent severe illness from COVID-19 is evidence that the vaccine is in the best interests of the child (para 28).The government and public health authorities are in a better position than the courts to consider the health benefits and risks of children receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. Absent compelling evidence to the contrary, it is in the best interest of an eligible child to be vaccinated (para 28).
Charney J. relied on section 4 of the Health Care Consent Act. 1996, S.O. 1996, c. 2 (“HCCA”) which does not provide a minimum age for capacity to make medical treatment decisions.
Where the minor is a “mature minor” and capable of providing informed consent under s. 4 of the HCCA, decisions regarding medical treatment may be made by the minor. The question is whether the health care provider administering the vaccine is satisfied that the young person is capable of understanding information about the vaccine.
As the parents agreed that each child was capable, it was not necessary for the court to assess the capacity of the children (para 43).
Charney J. concluded that P, J, and E were entitled to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.