Court allowed, but reduced, in-person parenting time to father with partial COVID vaccination

Child has history of lung disease and remains at risk of developing complications from COVID

Court allowed, but reduced, in-person parenting time to father with partial COVID vaccination
Exemption from second dose must indicate reasons based on clear medical information

The Ontario Court of Justice has ruled that despite lack of acceptable medical exemption, a father’s partial vaccination still warrants in-person parenting time, subject to certain conditions.

In A.G. v. M.A., 2021 ONCJ 531, both parents consented to a temporary, without-prejudice parenting-time order for the father. A month later, the mother received information that the father was not fully vaccinated, the first she had heard of his vaccination status. When challenged, the father presented a doctor’s letter stating that he was “exempted from taking the second dose of the COVID vaccine due to a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine.”

The mother argued that the doctor’s letter did not contain an analysis or explanation but a simple one-line conclusion. She further presented her child’s doctor’s letter, stating that “given the [child’s] past medical history, history of lung disease, and need for future surgery/hospitalization, she remains at risk of contracting and potentially developing complications of infectious illnesses including COVID-19.”

“There are competing interests at stake. On the one hand the father is not fully vaccinated, thereby exposing his daughter to a greater risk of infection from COVID-19. On the other hand, all other things being equal, the child should be entitled to have her parent in her life in a meaningful way,” said the court.

The court rejected the father’s evidence on medical exemption, citing the Ontario Ministry of Health’s paper “Medical Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccinations,” that the exemption must clearly indicate the reason – clear medical information – as to why the individual cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19. Here, the one-line conclusion fails to satisfy this requirement, said the court.

Nevertheless, the court ruled that the father’s partial vaccination without medical exemption still warrants some in-person parenting time, subject to certain conditions. The court modified the temporary without prejudice parenting time order to reduce in-person parenting time from two hours to one-hour-a-week and ordered that parenting time shall take place exclusively outdoors. Further, the court said that should he receive his second vaccination or an acceptable medical exemption, he may apply for variation of the order.

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