Unvaccinated Dad with Joint Custody Loses Right to In-Person Visits
As was reported by the CBC recently a separated New Brunswick father has the distinction of being among the first parents in Canada to have lost the right to see his three children in person, because he refuses to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
In an early-February 2022 ruling by a judge of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench, the father was prohibited from continuing to exercise the visitation rights that had been established under an existing joint custody arrangement reached with the mother in 2019.
The judge made the order despite the so-called “research” the now-remarried father had done on his own, leading him and his new wife to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine due to concerns over its safety and efficacy. They had both gone on to obtain “medical exemptions” from a local physician – but those turned out to be legally invalid, since it was revealed that the doctor had been suspended from the provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons at the time.
In any case – and regardless of the father’s own views on the science of vaccines – the judge was not swayed from the central task of focusing on the best interests of the children. One of them, aged 10, was immunocompromised due to non-cancerous tumours in her blood vessels. In the judge’s view that particular child would be especially at risk, if exposed to the unvaccinated father. The judge said:
As the parents who are caring for [the child] 50 per cent of the time, in close quarters, unmasked and unvaccinated, they are well-positioned to transmit the virus to [the child] should they contract it, this despite their best efforts…
The judge also explained that the father’s “own anecdotal research on such a highly specialized topic carries little to no weight in the overall analysis when measured against the sound medical advice of our public health officials.” The judge added that it was “no contest”: The current science on the fast-spreading virus outweighed the father’s “wait-and-see approach”.
While conceding that the decision was one made with a “heavy heart”, the judge ultimately ruled that the father was prohibited from having in-person contact with any of the three children. However, he could still have virtual visits with them on a generous schedule.
Finally, the judge ordered that the mother could proceed to have all three children vaccinated against COVID-19, over the objections of the father. The father had been refusing to give his consent since November 2021, when the children first became eligible to get inoculated.
The full-text of judge’s written ruling in this case, which is the first of its kind in New Brunswick and possibly a novel ruling Canada-wide, is not yet available online. We will post a link to the ruling here, when it becomes widely available.
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