A person wears a face mask as they walk through McGill University during light snowfall in Montreal, Sunday, December 20, 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

A person wears a face mask as they walk through McGill University during light snowfall in Montreal, Sunday, December 20, 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Some Canadian universities say no to proof of vaccination requirement

Dozens of universities in the United States have opted to require proof of vaccination

A COVID-19 vaccine likely won’t be a requirement to return to the physical classroom at some universities in September, with several large schools saying they have no intention of mandating proof of immunization for students.

Though some schools remain undecided, the decisions from the University of British Columbia, University of Alberta and McGill University come as governments around the world work out how to handle so-called vaccine passports.

“There’s quite a range of opinions,” said Andrew Kirk, an engineering professor and head of the McGill Association of University Teachers. “We haven’t taken a formal position.”

Some professors, he said, believe McGill should require that students be fully vaccinated before returning to laboratories and lecture halls.

“Others feel that as long as they themselves are vaccinated, and there are reasonable precautions, then it shouldn’t be a requirement,” Kirk said.

Though the faculty association doesn’t have a concrete take on the issue, a spokeswoman for McGill said the school is planning for several scenarios, but anticipates that everyone at high-risk for COVID-19 will be vaccinated before fall.

“We do not currently anticipate a requirement to show proof of vaccination before coming to campus in the fall,” Cynthia Lee said in an email.

“The university is using an approach to planning that will create flexibility so that we will be able to adapt if we need to.”

Dozens of universities in the United States have opted to require proof of vaccination, including Rutgers, Brown, Cornell and Northeastern.

But there are some concerns around the equity of vaccine passports, with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association saying it’s “flashed red and yellow lights at any effort by a Canadian government to mandate public disclosure of private health-care information.”

It argues that the same groups that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — including new immigrants and racialized communities — may also face an added impact from vaccine passport requirements.

“Systemic racism may influence choices of service providers and others about who to demand ‘proof’ from, and who to deny access, particularly in the absence of a strict legal regime governing their use,” the CCLA said in an online FAQ on the issue.

The federal government, meanwhile, is working with other G20 countries to establish a common vaccine passport requirement for international travel.

“We are looking very carefully at it, hoping to align with allied countries,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week.

Some schools are pointing to government guidance in saying they don’t plan on requiring proof of vaccination, including the University of British Columbia.

“All adult students will be eligible to receive the vaccine, including international students,” the return-to-campus primer paper reads. “The COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory.”

Gillian Glass, who heads up CUPE 2278, which represents teaching assistants at UBC, said her union is hopeful the university will consult with them before finalizing anything.

“At this point, because the university doesn’t have a set plan for return to campus, we don’t have a stance yet,” she said.

But that will likely change when the school lays out the conditions for returning to the classroom, she said, and she hopes the school will take the TAs’ position into consideration.

Meanwhile, other schools are still mulling whether to require proof of vaccination, such as the University of Toronto.

“The approach to vaccination is a matter all post-secondary institutions in Ontario are considering at this time,” a spokesperson said. “We are working closely with the guidance of the province when it comes to health and safety requirements in coming to any decisions.”

Likewise, Universities Canada said it’s still weighing the options.

“We are all experiencing this pandemic in real time, and it is too early to say what the world will look like at the beginning of the next academic year,” spokesman Karl Oczkowski said. “Our recommendation to students and universities is to keep the lines of communication open.”

READ MORE: For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusUniversities and Collegesvaccines

Just Posted

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

(TNRD Library)
Let the mystery of the Summer Reading Club begin

Are you ready to ‘Crack the Case’ at the Barriere Library?

(Metro Creative photo)
Gardeners of all ages invited to enter 2021 NT Fall Fair contests

The North Thompson Fall Fair Drive Thru scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 4,… Continue reading

Milsom Lodge was built in the East Barriere Valley when the Milsom brothers purchased two parcels of land in 1911, DL 2323 and DL2324. (Milsom’s photo)
The Milsom Lodge: The mansion, the ballroom, the history

“At the turn of the century, when so many families were leaving… Continue reading

teaser
Ladies Golf close enough for a cheery wave

A new month - new COVID rules - a new start. For… Continue reading

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Most Read