Tuesday, April 20, 2021
ADVT 
National

Churches challenge B.C. COVID-19 health orders

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 02 Mar, 2021
  • Churches challenge B.C. COVID-19 health orders

A lawyer for a group of British Columbia churches that are challenging the province's COVID-19 rules prohibiting in-person religious services argued Monday the orders reflect a "value judgment."

Paul Jaffe says the provincial health officer's orders allow secular gatherings such as in-class education and food distribution for people in need to continue, while discriminating against the churches and their congregants' right to freedom of religion.

He told the court his clients — which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack — have been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remain open.

Jaffe also argued the province has not provided medical justification showing that the virus is spreading through church services and posing a greater risk to the public than other activities that remain allowed, including outdoor assemblies over matters of public interest or controversy.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told a news conference last month that churches were operating with safety measures in place throughout the summer and fall, but as the pandemic worsened, so did transmission in faith settings.

Henry and the province have said they are confident the health orders are in accordance with the law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Hearings over the churches' petition are set to continue Tuesday.

Jaffe works with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based legal advocacy group that's also asking the court to dismiss tickets of up to $2,300 each for the alleged violations of the health orders by the churches.

B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson dismissed an injunction request in February by Henry and B.C.'s attorney general, whose lawyers argued churchgoers who are breaking COVID-19 rules would be more likely to comply with a court order.

Hinkson said he did not condone the churches' conduct and he was satisfied with the province's argument that the public could suffer from transmission of the virus where people are unsafely attending gatherings.

But he said during a hearing that the province was putting the court in an "impossible position" before the churches' own petition is heard this week.

Hinkson said he was also concerned that the administration of justice could be brought into disrepute if an injunction was granted but not enforced if the Crown found it would not be in the public interest to prosecute people who refused to adhere to it.

 

MORE National ARTICLES

1478 COVID19 cases over 3 days

1478 COVID19 cases over 3 days

With the additional supply from the newly approved AstraZeneca/Serum Institute of India viral vector vaccine, combined with setting the second dose interval at 16 weeks, everyone moves up the line, meaning more people will be vaccinated more quickly.

1478 COVID19 cases over 3 days

AstraZeneca's vaccine not for seniors: NACI

AstraZeneca's vaccine not for seniors: NACI

The AstraZeneca vaccine was authorized for use Friday on all adults, including seniors, but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is concerned there is limited data on how well the vaccine will work in older populations.

AstraZeneca's vaccine not for seniors: NACI

B.C. to extend rent freeze through 2021

B.C. to extend rent freeze through 2021

The changes, if passed, will come into effect on July 1 and are in addition to earlier protections introduced in 2018.

B.C. to extend rent freeze through 2021

MPs to examine safety of travellers in quarantine

MPs to examine safety of travellers in quarantine

Liberal MP John McKay, the committee chairman, said Monday the hearing could take place this week but cautioned it would be a challenge to schedule witnesses in time.

MPs to examine safety of travellers in quarantine

How effective is the AstraZeneca vaccine?

How effective is the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Health Canada said Friday that real-world data from countries already using the product suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups.

How effective is the AstraZeneca vaccine?

UPDATE: Panorama Ridge Secondary in Surrey on lockdown after an assault with a weapon

UPDATE: Panorama Ridge Secondary in Surrey on lockdown after an assault with a weapon

It is not known what type of weapon was involved in the attack. The person that was injured was taken to hospital and is in stable condition.

UPDATE: Panorama Ridge Secondary in Surrey on lockdown after an assault with a weapon

PrevNext