During our last webinar, we discussed vaccination in condos. Specifically, we tackled the following 3 questions:

  • Can condos require proof of vaccination?
  • Can vaccinated owners demand access to amenities?
  • Should condos get involved in immunization clinics?

In light of the very high interest triggered by these questions, we thought we’d tackle these in a series of posts.

Too early to answer these questions

At the outset, we reiterate our view that it may be too early to answer these questions with any certainty.

Indeed, at the time of this post, according to the COVID-19 Tracker site, only about 1.6% of the Canadian population has been vaccinated. Thankfully, these numbers are expected to grow rapidly but it may take many months before a critical portion of the population is immunized. Until we get there, some of these questions are a bit premature.

Moreover, it is not clear yet how long the vaccine’s protection will last. Time (and science) will tell us whether the vaccines currently being deployed are a “one shot” requirement or whether immunization will be required on a more frequent basis, perhaps annually like the flu shots. It is also unclear how effective the current vaccines will be against the new different COVID-19 variants (although recent news reports are promising).

Vaccination is not mandatory in Canada

As a starting point, it is important to remember that, generally speaking, immunization is not mandatory in Canada. In Ontario and New Brunswick (and to a lesser extent in Manitoba) proof of immunization is required for children and adolescents attending public school. Ontario and New Brunswick require immunization for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella immunization, while Manitoba requires a measles vaccination. In all cases, exceptions to this requirement are made for medical or ideological reasons.

Mandated or not, children’s vaccination exceeds roughly 90% in Canada. Here is more info on the Canadian picture of vaccination.

The fact that vaccination is not mandated in Canada may provide a clue as to how governments will deal with COVID vaccination.

Can condo require proof of vaccination?

Time will tell whether the federal (or more likely the provinces) will mandate vaccination against COVID-19. Until then, it is difficult to imagine that condos could (or should) lead the charge and impose vaccination.

Imposing vaccination would raise all sorts of medical, human rights, logistic and privacy issues.

  • Indeed, not everyone can receive the vaccine. There are current restrictions based on age, underlying conditions, pregnancies or allergies;
  • Some will object to it on ideological grounds. It is already difficult to get some people to wear a mask. Imagine imposing vaccination. We note that vaccination (or the absence of it) is not a protected ground of prohibited discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code – disability is, however. Still, imposing vaccination will raise all sorts of human rights questions;
  • Finally, the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information (ie. whether someone is vaccinated or not) is regulated by the Personal Health Information Protection Act. Condos are not equipped (and perhaps not permitted) to gather and use this information;
  • Even setting aside these potential issues, it is easy to imagine the logistical challenges resulting from requiring vaccination and policing it. Condos would also have to deal with vaccination of tenants and visitors…. How do you track this? These are not simple challenges.

Conclusion

At this early stage, until and unless governments regulate COVID vaccination, we are of the view that condos would not be able to impose or require vaccination. Evidently, the path to follow by condos will be simplified if the federal (or more likely the provinces) regulate this question. There are already talks of certain airlines requiring vaccination and there are talks of “vaccine passports” on smartphone allowing for easy confirmation of vaccination.

We will tackle the other vaccination questions in our next blog posts.