For the past few months, gyms, restaurants and planes have required proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter. But now things are getting serious: In Québec, the unvaccinated may be subject to fines, and the federal health minister has expressed support for vaccine mandates.

What would mandatory vaccination look like in Canada? Countries like Greece and Austria have proposed vaccine mandates with fines for noncompliance. Where is the line between forcing vaccination and penalizing the unvaxxed?

Today in The Conversation Canada, Hilary Young of the University of New Brunswick discusses the legal questions involved, and how the right to make vaccine decisions weighs in against other issues. “If a province tried to impose a fine or other penalty on the unvaccinated, a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would surely follow.”

Also today:

All the best.

Patricia Nicholson

Health + Medicine Editor

People gather in Kingston, Ont., to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and masking measures on Nov. 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg 

COVID-19 vaccine mandates would likely face legal hurdles in Canada

Hilary Young, University of New Brunswick

Can the government mandate vaccines? Canadians have rights to make decisions about vaccination, but these rights are not absolute, and do not mean those decisions will have no consequences.

A researcher at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, works on the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus in December 2021. African countries were penalized by Canada’s travel ban even though they discovered the Omicron variant via complex sequencing work when western nations failed to. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

I was ensnared in Canada’s harsh and unscientific African travel ban

Badriyya Yusuf, Queen's University, Ontario

Ottawa’s travel ban against African countries made clear its underlying policy: What matters is not your test result, but where you’ve been. It’s yet another example of anti-Africa discrimation.

Disregard for public health, like protests at hospitals challenging vaccine passports, seen at this event in September 2021 in Toronto, show schools need to expand how they teach what it means to be a responsible global citizen. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

In a pandemic, ignoring science affects everyone. Citizenship education can help ensure that doesn’t happen

Evan Saperstein, Université de Montréal

The failure to observe public health protocols during the pandemic requires attention and action. Revitalizing global citizenship education in schools should be part of addressing the problem.

A woman wades through mud to collect items from her home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The devastation brought by hurricanes Eta and Iota in Honduras in November 2020 contributed to a sharp rise in northward migration. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Environmental disasters are fuelling migration — here’s why international law must recognize climate refugees

Daniel L. Huizenga, University of Toronto

International refugee law must be overhauled to consider climate change and include “deadly environments” as a form of persecution.

A woman poses for a photo with a statue of the Winter Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen near the Olympic Green in Beijing on Jan. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Get caught up in the Olympic spirit, but keep your (political) eyes wide open

Tim Elcombe, Wilfrid Laurier University

The Olympics, and all “mega sports,” are inevitably embedded in the political contexts of their times. To dismiss or bypass the political issues that arise seems naïve at best.

La Conversation Canada

Un peu d’or dans vos bijoux de famille : les nanotechnologies au service de la contraception masculine

Jeffrey Mo, University of Toronto

Parmi les applications croissantes des nanotechnologies figure l’utilisation de nanotiges pour la contraception masculine. La technique a connu un certain succès chez les animaux.

Un monde du travail à réinventer pour faire une meilleure place aux femmes

Louise Champoux-Paillé, Concordia University

Pour faire une meilleure place aux femmes, il faut réimaginer le travail au sein des organisations afin de favoriser une meilleure harmonisation des vies personnelles et professionnelles.


Environment + Energy

  • Ocean heat is at record levels, with major consequences

    Kevin Trenberth, University of Auckland

    While surface temperatures were about the 6th warmest on record in 2021, the upper oceans were at their hottest – and they’re a stronger indicator of global warming. A top climate scientist explains.


Science + Tech