A lawyer for several British Columbia churches says the province's COVID-19 restrictions substantially interfere with his clients' rights to freedom of religion under the Canadian charter.
Paul Jaffe told the B.C. Supreme Court that religion is far more than belief, thoughts and opinions, rather it's the "actual practice" of those things in ways that are an important part of the faith.
Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson said during a hearing on Tuesday people are still free to hold and express religious views and it's the safety of those who are gathering that's at issue.
Jaffe argued churches are stereotyped in a way that presents them as some of kind risk when fitness centres, schools and stores remain open.
He 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 alleged violations of the orders by his clients.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie 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.