TDF joins forces with lawyer Lisa Bildy to represent Western students who object to the university’s unlawful collection of personal health information and mandatory vaccination policy.
TORONTO: The Democracy Fund (TDF), together with lawyer Lisa Bildy of Libertas Law, assisted by Bruce Pardy of Rights Probe, will file a Notice of Application in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in London, Ontario, on behalf of five students objecting to the use, collection and storage of their private medical information by Western University.
The legal filing will allege, among other things, that the University's collection of students' private health information is a breach of privacy laws.
On March 1, 2022, the provincial government's directive to post-secondary institutions to have a COVID-19 vaccine policy expired. As of September 1, Western is the only Ontario university to require its students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated and boosted (by October 1) to attend campus.
After the provincial government rescinded its directive, it discontinued the use of its Verify Ontario App on June 24, 2022. Western has repurposed its own digital portal to collect, store, copy and use students' proof of vaccination.
On its website, Western claims to be committed to the requirements of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). However, FIPPA states: "No person shall collect personal information on behalf of an institution unless the collection is expressly authorized by statute, used for the purposes of law enforcement or necessary to the proper administration of a lawfully authorized activity." Western University is one of the "institutions" to which the prohibition applies.
The students' legal challenge will argue that, given the resumption of normality across the province, the lack of a vaccine directive from the provincial government, the lack of any other legal enactment or authorization to collect vaccination status, and the fact that other Ontario universities are proceeding without requiring disclosure of such information, Western's collection of private health information such as COVID-19 vaccination status is "unnecessary to the proper administration of a lawfully authorized activity" under FIPPA. The application will seek a declaration from the Court that Western's collection of private health information is unlawful and an injunction prohibiting it from doing so.
The Court has scheduled the matter to be spoken to on September 9, 2022, at which time preliminary scheduling issues will be addressed. The full hearing of the Notice of Application with arguments is expected to occur shortly thereafter on a date fixed by the Court.
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About The Democracy Fund:
Founded in 2021, The Democracy Fund (TDF) is a Canadian charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education and relieving poverty. TDF promotes constitutional rights through litigation and public education. TDF supports an access to justice initiative for Canadians whose civil liberties have been infringed by government lockdowns and other public policy responses to the pandemic.