Toronto Mayor John Tory called on Ontario’s Ford government to make vaccines mandatory for eligible schoolchildren on Friday, joining Ottawa and over a dozen other cities calling for a change in the province’s laws.
“I’m calling on the province of Ontario to require all children to be vaccinated,” Tory said. “It’s the most natural way that you protect against all the potentially dangerous things that can come about from vaccinations.”
Ontario’s Liberal Party is trying to convince a reluctant Andrew Scheer, the federal Conservative leader, to go with the city’s wishes by introducing an amendment to the national Anti-Discrimination Act. Scheer has said he has no plans to adopt the resolution.
However, Toronto is not the only major city calling for action. Ottawa’s Deputy Mayor Rick Gray said he would like Toronto to take the lead.
“I have been pursuing the resolution with a number of other major cities here in Canada and I will be doing the same with our federal leaders who do not agree with the city’s position,” Gray said.
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All Canadian provinces and territories allow for religious exemptions to vaccines, so citizens’ religious freedoms are protected.
However, those who choose not to follow a vaccination schedule do so not for moral reasons, but due to a weak or failing immune system.
Gray said a weak immune system is more prevalent in people of Asian descent and those who have autoimmune disorders, so people without a strong immune system should be given the benefit of the doubt.
The federal motion introduced by the Liberals says the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence shows that vaccines protect against some of the most serious diseases, including the common cancers linked to modern living, common infectious diseases and autism.
READ MORE: Ontario considers adding third round of HPV vaccine to school immunization schedule
The motion comes after the Toronto Board of Health unanimously approved a motion calling for the province to make a vaccine for human papillomavirus mandatory for all Ontario children entering kindergarten. HPV vaccines prevent the development of the HPV virus, which is responsible for 90 percent of cervical cancer cases.
Ontario’s Special Advisory Committee on Vaccination recommended the use of the HPV vaccine as an investment in public health, but the government decided against making it mandatory.
Those opposed to vaccines argue that some types are unsafe or that the three-vaccine schedule leads to religious exemptions. Critics cite a report by BC’s Advisory Task Force on Immunization that said it “is easier to decide to opt out of a vaccine course than to go to a new school and start kindergarten.”
Tory disagreed, saying, “If you don’t want it, get out of school. Get out of school. If you don’t want it, no problem.”