A new piece of legislation in Ontario could force parents to take a science class if they don’t want to vaccinate their kids.
Following a rash of anti-vaccination parents refusing to immunize their kids — including one such Alberta couple who are facing up to five years in jail after their unvaccinated child died of meningitis — Ontario’s Health Minister tabled a bill Thursday that would amend the Immunization of School Pupils Act to require parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids to take a science class.
“Choosing to vaccinate your child protects them from disease, and it protects vulnerable children who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons,” MPP Eric Hoskins, who is also a family doctor, said in a statement.
The act governing immunization in Ontario says it’s a parent’s duty to make sure their kids are immunized, and if they don’t, they can be fined up to $1,000. But currently, any parent can be granted an exemption if they file “a statement of conscience or religious belief with the proper medical officer of health.”
If Hoskins’ proposed bill passes, it would only grant parents that exemption if they complete an immunization education session with a medical officer first. With a Liberal majority in Ontario, the bill is likely to pass.
For their kids to attend public school in Ontario, parents need to prove they’ve been immunized against dangerous diseases including polio, measles, whooping cough, rubella and mumps, among others.
In early April, more than 900 kids were suspended in Waterloo, Ontario after their parents neglected to update their vaccine records, CTV reported.
Also last month, a jury found two Alberta parents, David and Collet Stephan, guilty of not providing their son with a vaccine that would have prevented his death.
Their child Ezekiel died after contracting bacterial meningitis and suffering a lung infection. But the parents testified they believed he had a less serious ailment and treated him with garlic, onions, horseradish and hot peppers, according to the Canadian Press.