Oshawa student files human rights complaint against Ontario Tech over vaccine mandate

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Published February 25, 2022 at 10:16 am

An engineering student has filed a human rights complaint against Ontario Tech University over vaccine mandates.

Phillip Anisimov, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at the Oshawa school, declares he has been denied the opportunity to complete his last semester of studies because of the vaccine policy, which he believes violates his religious beliefs.

Anisimov, who is being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based legal advocacy organization specializing in a social conservative approach to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, objects to the use of fetal cells in the testing and development of the vaccines and insists that accepting the vaccine would “violate his conscience and his religious duty.”

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore provided post-secondary institutions with instructions this past fall on dealing with the vaccine mandates, requiring them to offer three options for students to return to class:

  • Be double vaccinated
  • Show medical exemption approved by the school
  • Attend vaccine education sessions and test frequently

The third option, claimed the Justice Centre, was never offered and Anisimov was denied accommodation to finish his final semester, despite most of his classes being provided online.

Anisimov had completed some of the work required for his ‘Capstone’ course, a full year program where students work in a group under the supervision of a professor to build a prototype, when he was de-registered by the school.

The Justice Centre made a request on February 2 to the University that Anisimov not be de-registered from the Capstone course, claiming the student was willing to comply with any health measures or guidelines, as well as agree not to attend campus and to accept a grade of zero on the program’s in-person components if he could be allowed to finish the course.

His request was denied.

“The University has tried to characterize Mr. Anisimov’s belief as a personal preference by arguing that vaccination is not truly contrary to his faith,” said Hatim Kheir, a Justice Centre Staff Lawyer. “Decision-makers are not permitted to engage in speculation and theological debates about which dogma is correct. So long as a belief is religious in nature and sincerely held, it must be accommodated.”

Anisimov’s application is currently before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for acceptance of his complaint.

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