Western University students to appeal court’s decision over privacy rights and COVID mandates

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A recent court decision found that Western University’s collection of data related to students’ vaccination status does not infringe on students’ rights to privacy, where it ruled against The Democracy Fund (TDF) in whether or not the university could lawfully collect the students’ vaccination status. 

The court explained its decision by mentioning that it does “not accept that the Policy will ‘force’ members of the university community to disclose their personal information.”

“I am also not persuaded that a disposal order is warranted in the circumstances,” the court stated.

“The relief sought is broad. The applicants did not provide any authority in support of this relief. The applicants confirmed on the hearing of the application that they want all proof of vaccine information collected by Western to be destroyed. The court does not comprehend any reasonable basis for such a broad order. Among other issues, proof of vaccine information in the 2021-2022 year was collected pursuant to the province’s mandate.”

Following this decision, the students decided to appeal, with the help of TDF and Lisa Bildy of Libertas Law.

“The students’ legal team had argued that an institution’s ‘lawfully authorized activities’ are the services or programs for which the institution exists to provide to the community – in this case, the provision of post-secondary education and other incidental activities,” stated TDF in their recent press release. The registered-charity then explained why it is their belief that Western University does not need to collect private medical information to successfully perform their lawfully authorized activities. 

“Institutions may be empowered to create policies to manage their affairs and further their objectives, but these policies are not their “lawfully authorized activities” under FIPPA,” they wrote.

To justify the university’s current mandates, Western University’s provost and vice-president, Florentine Strzelczyk, delivered a statement. 

“While we can’t predict when the next wave of COVID-19 might come, we believe these measures will help us protect the in-person experience that Western is known for,” she affirmed. “We want to do everything we can to offer our students a great on-campus experience throughout the academic year.”

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