Published:December 20, 2021
The government of New Brunswick revised its public health order to exclude grocery retailers from the option of mandatory vaccination for entry, according to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).
The announcement from the JCCF came on Friday, 10-days after it sent a demand letter to the Minister of Justice of New Brunswick warning the government the new public health order brought in December 4 was unconstitutional. The order allowed private businesses to deny service to those who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccines.
“The order implicitly invited grocery stores to make any conditions of entry — including requiring vaccination of customers — as a condition to show for food and essentials,” said the JCCF in a release.
In its warning letter, the JCCF also noted the right to food is a fundamental human right “enshrined in various international instruments” including The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.
“On December 15, the Justice Centre sent the City of Fredericton a demand letter in relation to its vaccinated-only policy at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market demanding it be immediately reversed for its unprecedented unconstitutional and human rights violations,” said the statement.
Boyce Farmers’ Market adopted the vaccine passport policy on December 11, but has since rescinded its policy in an announcement on Twitter and will follow the province’s reversal.
The Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market will not be requiring proof of vaccination at the door this coming weekend, however two-metre distancing will be in effect. Masks will also be required. pic.twitter.com/GUARSmTMvo
— Fredericton Farmers’ Market (@FredFarmMarket) December 17, 2021
On Friday, the provincial government sent out a news release announcing the New Brunswick public health order had been revised.
“An option allowing stores that sell groceries to ask patrons 12 and over for proof of vaccination, instead of implementing distancing requirements, is being removed from the province’s mandatory order,” said the news release.
“The original intention was to give stores a choice, and that those choosing the proof-of-vaccination option would offer delivery or curbside pickup; it was never the intention for anyone to believe they could not access groceries,” stated Health Minister Dorothy Shephard in the release.
The JCCF confirmed the warning letters would have proceeded to legal action had the government not reversed the policies, calling them “discriminatory and unconstitutional.”
Three New Brunswick MPs — John Williamson, Rob Moore, and Richard Bragdon — released statements on December 14 condemning the New Brunswick Government’s ‘winter action plan’, which permitted retailers and grocery stores to refuse vaccine-free Canadians.
“This order which served to segregate citizens was a very concerning development in Canada,” said JCCF staff lawyer Andre Memauri.
“It would have been the first attempt by a government to deny essential services and food to Canadians who decide against receiving a COVID vaccine, as is their constitutional right.