The courts in Ontario have been very clear that in the event of a disagreement between parents about whether or not a child should be vaccinated against COVID-19, the court will likely find that it is in the child’s best interests to be vaccinated. In fact, in a case decided in October 2021, the Honourable Justice Mackinnon made an order granting the father sole decision making so as to get an almost 14-year old child vaccinated, despite the fact that the child did not wish to be vaccinated.
There is no specific age of consent for medical treatment in Ontario. A minor will be found capable of consenting if they have the capacity to appreciate the nature and purpose of the treatment and consequence of refusing same, and if the consent is informed. The age and maturity of the minor will be considered as well as the complexity of the treatment and the minor’s dependence on a parent or guardian.
However, in the case of Saint-Phard v. Saint-Phard, Justice Mackinnon found that the child’s anti-vaccination preference was the result of influence by his mother and a doctor retained by the mother. Justice Mackinnon found that the consent was not properly informed, given that the child’s anti-vaccination preference was based upon inaccurate medical information.
Justice Mackinnon went as far as to order that the mother should not provide the child with any information directly or indirectly about COVID-19 vaccines, other than what is provided by the government health authorities.
Courts have taken judicial notice (i.e. the fact can be taken as evidence) of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and that that it provides helpful protection against severe illness from COVID-19 for children between the ages of 12 and 17.
Although there is a scarcity of reported decisions at the time of writing this blog with respect to the vaccination of children between the ages of 5 and 11, it is likely that in those situations, the court will continue with the general presumption that it is in the best interests of all eligible children to get vaccinated.
 See A.C. v. L.L. 2021 ONSC 6530, 2021 CarswellOnt 13587
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