Collegiate instructors sue University of Winnipeg, province over 'discriminatory' vaccine mandates
University says lawsuit is 'misconceived and will be challenged accordingly'
Three University of Winnipeg Collegiate instructors are suing the school, the province and Manitoba's chief public health officer over a vaccine mandate they call "overboard, unreasonable, and discriminatory."
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench on Monday, names a number of other departments including Manitoba Health and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration.
The plaintiffs are:
- Renise Mlodzinski, who has taught at the university for eight years and holds degrees in music-performance and education.
- Evan Maltman, who taught at U of W for six years and holds degrees in kinesiology-physical education and education.
- Kyle Du Val, who has instructed at the school for three years and holds degrees in science-physics, music-performance, and education.
The three instructors say they were placed on involuntary unpaid leave on Sept. 7, 2021, because of their vaccine status and are being held up to "ridicule, hatred, maltreatment, discrimination."
"All of the plaintiffs have suffered vilification and extreme ill-will being directed at them as 'unvaccinated' people as a result of the University of Winnipeg and other government of Manitoba representatives making false public statements and promulgating policies which have the effect of stating the unvaccinated are to blame for the pandemic," according to the statement of claim.
The lawsuit accuses the province and the university of violating a section of the Criminal Code of Canada that makes it an offence to make statements that wilfully promote hatred against an "identifiable group."
It goes on to say the unvaccinated are being blamed for hospital overcrowding and for the spread of COVID-19. It says the government has instituted policies that make the unvaccinated "sub-humans" by restricting their rights to access society.
The instructors say the university's policy claims vaccination is the single most effective public health measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and, along with physical distancing, capacity limits and indoor mask use, it is "essential to the university's institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic."
They say there is no scientific basis to support that policy now that we are seeing breakthrough cases and transmission of the virus among fully vaccinated people.
"Scientific studies now show no significant difference in the viral load between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who tested positive for COVID-19," the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says the narrative surrounding COVID-19 vaccines has created a false sense of security in the vaccinated, and that by allowing people to get "vaccine passports" to dine in restaurants, go to bars and attend hockey games, the province is making people believe they are safe "while they actually can and do spread COVID-19 as efficiently as an unvaccinated individual."
In a statement sent to CBC News on Saturday, a university spokesperson wrote, "The University of Winnipeg and the Collegiate are following public health directives, which are based on the best scientific evidence.
"Our vaccine mandate is part of our plan to ensure a safe working and learning environment for faculty, staff and students. The lawsuit is misconceived and will be challenged accordingly."
"The plaintiffs assert that the COVID-19 vaccines are experimental in nature and have not undergone sufficient long-term safety observation," according to the statement of claim.
The lawsuit says normally the approval process for vaccines lasts years "in order to properly assess the benefits and risks from clinical data, including any potential long-term side effects."
It goes on to say that vaccine ingredients have never been publicly revealed so people can't know whether they might have a fatal allergy to any of them.
According to the statement of claim, "mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine technology, and this is the first time that such vaccines are being administered to humans without widespread and lengthy clinical trials first being conducted."
The statement of claim says current data from Ontario shows 1 in 5,000 patients got myocarditis from the Moderna vaccine. It says the Pfizer vaccine caused myocarditis in 1 in 28,000 patients.
"The vaccination program in Canada is being adjusted on the fly as adverse effects manifest necessitating the need for constant amendments of safety guidelines. This underlines the experimental nature of these vaccines," the lawsuit says.
It says that in September 2021 the Ontario government recommended people between the ages 18-24 receive Pfizer instead of Moderna after an increase in cases of myocarditis and death in young adults. The lawsuit says Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden have made similar recommendations.
"The government of Manitoba has not followed this safety protocol, nor has it provided an explanation for ignoring these concerns to Manitobans," said the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says before there were vaccines, health-care professionals and regular citizens relied on personal protective equipment (PPE), contact tracing and screening for COVID-19 symptoms.
"These were deemed an appropriate and sufficient risk mitigation procedure in all medical facilities in Canada prior to the rollout of the 'vaccines.'"
The instructors say the COVID-19 vaccines don't provide full immunity to COVID-19 or its known variants, but "merely provide some 'benefits' or 'protection' that in certain circumstances at best lessens severity of symptoms or potentially reduces the risk of hospitalization."
The plaintiffs call the university's vaccine mandate "unethical, unlawful and discriminatory in both conception and its effects."
They say they have suffered severe and permanent psychological physical and emotional trauma, loss of income, and loss of trust.
The lawsuit says that the policy seeks to coerce employees to be vaccinated against their will, which amounts to "an expressed intention to engage in a conspiracy to commit assault."
The instructors say the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects them from being compelled to disclose private medical information, such as vaccine status.
They want the vaccine mandate stayed until the matter could be dealt with in court. They are also asking for up to a million in damages for the "intentional infliction of mental distress, and assault and battery," and another million in damages for violating their charter rights.
"The policy is not in the public interest. By placing professors and others on 'leave of absence' without pay, they are removing caring professionals from public service in a random and disruptive manner that will irreparably harm students in the province of Manitoba," the lawsuit says.
- An earlier version of this story indicated the plaintiffs were all professors at the university, rather than collegiate instructors.Jan 14, 2022 9:01 PM CT