Active cases

Because of the generosity of its donors, The Democracy Fund's legal team has been able to help thousands of Canadians from all walks of life in the fight to protect civil liberties.

Our legal cases include fighting against public & private vaccine mandates, COVID-related tickets and general government overreach - whether through the 'Fight The Fines' campaign, the 'Fight Vaccine Mandates' campaign, or our representation of unvaccinated students.

You'll find a description of some of these ongoing efforts below. If you want to support our legal efforts, please click here to make a tax-deductible donation

We have counseled over 30 students from various colleges and universities across Canada regarding registration/enrollment issues. Below is a summary outlining some cases:

Student #1

Our client was an engineering student at a Canadian university. In the past, he had always suffered severe adverse reactions to vaccine injections. He declined to vaccinate and sought a medical exemption. However, the university would not accept a note from his physician, claiming that the medical reasons did not align with those set out by the provincial health authority.

As a result, he was deregistered from the university due to the vaccination policy and his refusal to vaccinate.

As a component of his studies, the student had obtained a work placement. He was hired back pending completion of his program. This employment was threatened when the university deregistered him from his remaining courses. In addition, without graduating, without a job placement and with little income, the client faced revocation of his student visa. This put him in the position of imminent deportation but without the ability to travel back to his country (due to his unvaccinated status).

TDF then sent a demand letter to the university. The university refused to remedy the situation. It claimed that exams and courses contained in-person components. However, following negotiations, the university permitted our client to complete his studies online. The client is now on schedule to graduate.

Result: Our client is re-enrolled and is currently completing the remainder of his program. He will be the first in his family to graduate from university and the first with a professional career.


Student #2

Our client is an indigenous graduate student at a Canadian university. Her university implemented a vaccine mandate in the fall of 2021, and she was facing deregistration due to her unvaccinated status.

After her request for a medical exemption was denied, she contacted TDF for assistance. Following our consultation, we crafted a response that we believed would compel the university to re-register her.

Adhering to the substance of a demand letter we drafted, our client held a meeting with her department head who agreed to permit her to complete her coursework remotely.

Result: Our client is continuing her studies without interruption and no longer facing deregistration. She will be the first in her family to obtain a degree.


Student #3

Our client is a technology student attending a Canadian post-secondary institution. Although the client was attending class virtually, he was routinely threatened with deregistration by the institution for remaining unvaccinated. The client had sent an exhaustively documented religious exemption request to the college, which was denied.  He consulted TDF about how to proceed.

We sent a demand letter to the college. Counsel for the college responded to indicate that the school will not be deregistering our client at this time.

Result: Our client is continuing his studies without further threat or interruption.


Student #4

Our client is a student in his first year of a trades/apprentice program at a post-secondary institution. He is employed with a company that has chosen to pay for him to upgrade his skills. His college implemented a vaccine mandate in the fall of 2021. The college then threatened to deregister the client if he failed to get fully vaccinated by the deadline.

Our client received a first dose of the vaccine, though he became increasingly hesitant to receive a second dose. Since he was partially vaccinated, the client was allowed to attend classes while rapid testing. After his request for a religious exemption was denied, however, the college required him to receive his second dose. He consulted with TDF in an attempt to remain in class. After meeting with TDF, he decided to attend classes and compel the college to deregister him. The college decided against deregistering the client after our consultation with him.

Result: The client continues to attend class without interruption.


Student #5

Our client is a student pursuing a science degree at a Canadian university. The university allowed students to attend class remotely during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, in the fall of 2021, the university required all students to be vaccinated in order to attend campus. Our client submitted a request for a religious exemption, but this exemption was denied. The client remained unvaccinated and the university subsequently deregistered her from most of her courses. The university did not offer rapid testing or allow the student to continue with her courses online.

The client contacted TDF for assistance. She hoped to be able to re-register for her courses or otherwise resolve the situation. TDF sent a demand letter to the university and negotiated with opposing counsel. We amicably resolved the situation so that the student is allowed to enroll in courses to continue her studies.


Student #6

Our client is a student taking a science degree at a Canadian university. The client is attending courses remotely. The university has a vaccine mandate for campus attendance. Due to the client’s unvaccinated status, he is prevented from completing the in-person portions of these courses and is in jeopardy of failing.

After our client’s request for a religious exemption was denied, he contacted TDF for assistance. We have sent a letter to the university in which we demand that the university allow our client to complete his courses fully online, re-weighting future tests in place of any tests that he might have missed. The university has refused to accommodate the student. TDF will likely bring a human rights complaint on behalf of the student.


Student #7

Our client is a student pursuing a master of science degree at a Canadian university. After allowing for rapid testing, the university changed its policy to require proof of vaccination for campus attendance. Our client remains unvaccinated and, thus, had difficulty attending courses that required in-person attendance. Additionally, he is unable to complete the research component of his thesis.

Complicating matters, the student endured criticism — both public and private — for his refusal to vaccinate.

The student retained TDF to assist with a return to his program. TDF prepared a demand letter but the student is awaiting the results of other inquires with the university.


Student #8

Our client is a student attending a Canadian university for an advanced degree. The university implemented a vaccine mandate despite previously allowing students to attend classes online. The student was threatened with deregistration. She remains unvaccinated and consulted TDF for information about her legal rights.

TDF provided her with general legal information and suggested she continue with her online courses if possible. The student was also able to continue in her placement at a high school given that the school accepted rapid testing as an alternative to vaccination. After discussing the matter with TDF, the student decided that she did not need to pursue the matter.


Student #9

Our client is a student pursuing a humanities degree at a Canadian university. She was deregistered from her program in 2022 due to her refusal to submit her vaccine status. She submitted exemptions on both religious and human rights grounds. The university denied her requests. The client’s program has been conducted through online learning since January 22, 2021.

The client is fully vaccinated but unwilling to disclose her status to the university for privacy reasons. The client contacted TDF for assistance regarding re-registration: TDF discussed her options regarding privacy rights and refusal to vaccinate. The student decided to wait to see if the university removed the vaccine mandate in the fall/winter semester.

We have spoken with over 40 union members from various unions across Canada regarding possible grievances or complaints against their own unions. These include the following:

Unionized Worker #1

The worker is a driver and security guard. He has worked with his employer in this capacity for two years and has worked in the field of security for many years. He was informed by his employer that he must be vaccinated and provided him with a deadline. The worker remained unvaccinated and was then placed on unpaid leave.

Result: By closely adhering to our step-by-step advice, the worker has successfully brought a grievance against his employer through his union. Arbitration has been scheduled for mid-summer.


Unionized Workers #2

This group of employees all work in a federally regulated industry. As of fall of 2021, members were placed on leave without pay.  To date, the employer has operated efficiently without a vaccine mandate. The workers knew of two ongoing grievances. The workers consulted TDF to determine whether they could remedy their situation.

Result: Following our guidance, the workers requested that the union grieve on their behalf for being placed on leave without pay. The union agreed to grieve and has brought a grievance on their behalf. One of the workers is the subject of a live individual grievance, another worker has been successful in receiving religious accommodation - both as a result of our guidance. The grievances remain live with arbitration scheduled throughout the summer.


Unionized Workers #3

These unionized workers are a group of transit operators. They were required to vaccinate by a future date, failing which, their employment would be terminated. Prior to our involvement, the union had not filed any grievances. The workers consulted with TDF to understand their rights.

Result: Following our provision of general legal information, the workers contacted the union president regarding accommodations and bringing specific grievances. Grievances have now been brought by the union and are currently pending arbitration. 


Unionized Worker #4

This worker is a delivery driver. In the fall of 2021, he was notified of the implementation of a new vaccine policy. This policy required all employees to receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, failing which regular rapid antigen testing would be required. The worker refused to have the vaccine administered and was subsequently suspended without pay.

Result: We provided general legal information to the worker about his rights under labour law and a collective agreement. He subsequently contacted his union to request that they seek corrective measures. We assisted the worker in communicating with his local union representative. The union will be filing an individual grievance on his behalf. The matter is now scheduled for arbitration.


Unionized Worker #5

This worker is employed by a Canadian delivery service provider. During the initial implementation of the vaccine requirement, the worker was permitted to submit negative rapid antigen tests in lieu of vaccination until 2022. Shortly thereafter, the worker's employer implemented a mandatory vaccine policy. Following the implementation of this policy, the worker was placed on unpaid leave.

Result: We suggested that the worker contact his union and request that they seek corrective measures. We assisted the worker with drafting a letter to his local union representative. The union is now filing an individual grievance on his behalf. This matter is now scheduled for arbitration.


Unionized Worker #6

The worker is employed by a delivery service provider in a rural community. He was informed that all employees had to be fully vaccinated by a certain date. Subsequently, due to his failure to vaccinate, the worker was placed on unpaid leave in 2022. We suggested that the worker connect with his union representative and request that a grievance be initiated. We further suggested that the worker submit to an antibody test as a positive result could be persuasive in the event of a hearing.

Result: The worker requested that his union commence a grievance. A grievance has been brought and is currently pending arbitration.


Unionized Worker #7

The worker is a unionized driver and delivery service provider. He has been employed in this capacity for most of his adult life. In 2021, the worker received a notice from his employer stating that he would be required to receive two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, failing which he would be placed on unpaid leave. In 2022, the worker was suspended without pay.

Result: Over several meetings and in correspondence, we have provided the worker with general guidance and information about the grievance process. The worker has filed a grievance specific to the corrective action he is seeking and has joined a larger group grievance for which arbitration has been scheduled.


Unionized Worker #8

The worker is employed as a biologist. The worker has worked from home since 2021. Prior to our involvement, she had no direct dealings with her union. She submitted a formal request to upper management to continue to work from home. Her supervisor declined her request to work from home and informed the worker that she must be vaccinated by an indicated deadline. The worker consulted TDF about her legal rights. TDF provided general legal information about the grievance process.

Result: The worker was successful in bringing a grievance through her union against the government.


Unionized Worker #9

The worker is a unionized nurse formerly employed at a hospital. Following the implementation of the hospital’s vaccine policy, and the worker's refusal to be vaccinated, the worker was suspended from her job without pay. In 2022, the worker was terminated from her position. The worker sought an exemption on religious grounds. Her exemption request was denied by the hospital. The worker consulted TDF seeking information about her legal rights. TDF provided general legal information about her rights under the collective agreement and in arbitration.

Result: With our continued guidance, the worker successfully joined a group grievance brought by her union against the vaccine policy. In addition, the union has initiated specific grievances on her behalf.


Unionized Worker #10

In 2021, the worker received a notice from her employer outlining the company’s newly implemented vaccine policy. The policy stated that employees required two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by a deadline, failing which they would be suspended without pay. The worker was suspended without pay. She consulted TDF for information about her legal rights.

Result: TDF provided general legal information to ensure that the worker understood her union’s obligations under the collective agreement. She was unfamiliar, at the time, with the grievance process. We assisted her with drafting a letter to her union regarding a possible grievance. The union has since filed a grievance.


Unionized Worker #11

The worker is an employee at a media organization. In 2021, he received an email from his employer indicating that, in order to avoid being suspended without pay, he needed to provide proof of vaccination. His employer provided him with a deadline to provide proof of vaccination. instead, the worker submitted a religious exemption request, which was subsequently rejected. The worker remained unvaccinated and was placed on leave without pay. He requested that his union file a specific grievance on his behalf. The worker consulted TDF about his legal rights. The union filed a grievance shortly thereafter.

Result: To date, TDF has provided general legal information in advance of the worker's union meetings, and assisted him with the grievance process by explaining next steps. Arbitration is pending.


Unionized Worker #12

This worker is employed in the manufacturing industry. In the fall of 2021, the worker was notified by her employer that she was required to submit a declaration of her vaccination status. She was provided with the following options in the declaration: partially vaccinated, fully vaccinated, medical exemption, human rights exemption. The worker submitted her declaration prior to the deadline. The employer sent the worker a follow-up notice indicating that all employees must be fully vaccinated or receive an approved exemption request, failing which they would be suspended without pay. The worker submitted an exemption request on both religious and human rights grounds. Her exemption requests were denied. The worker was then placed on unpaid leave. She consulted TDF for information about her legal rights.

Result: After our consultation, the worker demanded that her union seek corrective action on her behalf. The union has filed a grievance specific to her exemption requests. The worker has also joined two group grievances targeting her employer’s vaccine policies. Arbitration has been scheduled.


Unionized Worker #13

This worker is a long-term federal government employee. She was asked by the federal government to declare her vaccination status in order to return to her seasonal position. She submitted a request for an exemption on religious grounds: the request was denied. As a result, the worker is unable to return to work. She consulted TDF for information about her legal rights.

Result: After our consultation, the worker demanded that her union seek corrective action on her behalf. The union has filed a general grievance with respect to the vaccine policy.


Unionized Worker #14

This worker is a PSW. In 2021, she was provided with notice stating that she must be fully vaccinated by a certain date, failing which she would be suspended without pay. The worker submitted exemption requests on religious and human rights grounds, which were rejected by her employer. The worker was placed on leave without pay. She consulted TDF about her legal rights.

Result: We met with the worker to help her understand her legal rights under labour law and her collective agreement. She was unfamiliar, at the time, with the grievance process. We gave her information to enable her to draft a letter to her union. She subsequently wrote to her union demanding that it take corrective action on her behalf regarding her improper suspension. The union has since filed a grievance on her behalf.


Unionized Worker #15

The worker is a homeless shelter employee. She has over two decades of experience in her field. In 2021, the worker was notified by her employer that she would have to declare her vaccination status or provide a valid exemption request in order to continue working at the shelter. The worker was given a deadline to adhere to her employer’s new vaccine policy. The worker did not submit exemption requests on religious or human rights grounds. She was suspended without pay. Prior to TDF involvement, she had some preliminary discussions with her union representative.

Result: TDF provided general legal information regarding labour law and her rights under the collective agreement. The worker has since demanded that her union seek corrective action on her behalf. 

Many private or public sector employees have implemented a vaccine mandate to force workers to choose between employment or vaccination. TDF has assisted many of these employees in navigating this choice. 

Nonunionized Employee #1

This person is employed in the court system. In 2021, the employee was informed that rapid testing would no longer be an option for unvaccinated court workers. She was given a deadline by which time she must provide proof of receiving her second dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. The employee refused to comply with the requirements of her employer. The employee requested that the employer accommodate her and permit her to continue working from home as other employees had done. Nonetheless, the employer declined her requests. The employee was suspended without pay in 2021. She consulted TDF regarding her legal rights.

Result: We provided general legal information regarding employment law. We suggested that she may have options under employment law legislation. TDF directed her to counsel who may be able to assist her with a potential action for constructive dismissal.


Nonunionized Employee #2

The employee works in the healthcare industry. She is a member of a First Nations Band. Following her employer’s unilateral implementation of a vaccine policy, she was placed on unpaid leave. She consulted with TDF to understand her legal rights.

Result: Following several discussions with our legal team, the employee has decided to seek a religious exemption — something of which she was unaware until we spoke with her. She has been in contact with several elders in her Band along with the Band’s spiritual leader. She is connecting with her elders and requesting documents in support of her claim.


Nonunionized Employee #3

This employee is a researcher at a health facility. His employer implemented a vaccine policy in 2021 notifying employees that they would be terminated should they fail to receive two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. The employee was informed by his employer that he did not qualify for an exemption under religious or medical grounds and, further, that exemptions were only granted for individuals suffering from adverse reactions to the vaccine. As a result, the employee decided to receive his first dose of the vaccine. He experienced numerous negative side effects. The employee then received the second dose of the vaccine, whereupon he was diagnosed with a medical condition resulting from the vaccine. The employee consulted TDF regarding his legal rights.

Result: TDF provided general legal information about his legal rights. The employee is considering a WSIB claim against his employer.

Various professions - doctors, lawyers, nurses, etc. - have professional regulators that enforce codes of conduct and standards of profession. Increasingly, regulators have used their powers to punish professionals who publicly - and sometimes privately - dissent from official COVID-related views. TDF has acted, and continues to act, for some of these professionals.

Nurse #1

This nurse made several public comments about the COVID-19 virus and the response to the pandemic by the medical community and government. As a result, she received a letter from the regulating college informing her that she was under investigation for these comments.

We consulted with the nurse to structure a response. She initially chose to proceed through her union association at the investigatory stage.

Her regulator has decided to proceed to a disciplinary hearing, and TDF will likely assist in her defence through external counsel.

Vaccine mandates intrude upon many areas of life - from professional regulation to employment to medicine. TDF has acted to assist people in all of these areas. 

Patient #1

TDF was asked to help the vaccinated daughter of an ICU patient admitted to a hospital. The daughter and the rest of her family were not permitted any visitation access to their parent in the ICU. Despite the daughter being fully vaccinated, the hospital denied her visitation due to the parent testing positive for COVID-19. The daughter consulted TDF about her legal rights.

Result: Following a preliminary discussion with TDF which included legal information and suggestions for next steps, the daughter discussed the matter with the hospital. The parent was transferred to palliative care where visitors are permitted and the family has been reunited.


Patient #2

The patient suffers from kidney failure. He requires life-saving weekly dialysis and must drive a long way to receive his treatment. He is unable to maintain a steady work routine. 

After refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the patient was advised by his treating physician that he was an ineligible organ donor recipient due to his vaccine status. In the past, he was never required by his treating physicians to receive a flu vaccination. The patient otherwise qualifies for a transplant.

We spent some time briefing the patient in preparation for a follow up meeting with his physician.

Result: Following our consultations and discussion, he advised his treating physician that he had sought legal advice and was prepared to take the matter further. Shortly thereafter, he was added to the donor list.


Municipal Worker #3

This person works with a municipality. The worker has been prevented from attending meetings in person due to her unvaccinated status. A new policy was approved by the municipality requiring all workers attending meetings to submit their vaccine status and receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The worker refused to do so. She consulted TDF out of concern that the policy would prevent her from optimally fulfilling her duties.

Result: TDF provided general legal information and addressed the worker's concerns. The worker remains in her position with the municipality, attends meetings in person and has continued to fulfill her duties without interruption.