FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government reintroduced legislative amendments today that would remove non-medical exemptions from the mandatory immunization requirements for public school and licensed early learning and child care admissions. The amendments are to the Education Act and the Public Health Act.

In tabling the legislation, Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy said the government is willing to protect the legislation against possible challenges using the seldom-used notwithstanding clause, also known as Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Over the past year, there have been outbreaks of diseases which are preventable by vaccine that put the health and safety of our students at risk,” said Cardy. “We remain committed to helping to protect the most vulnerable people within our population and will use every power we have to ensure New Brunswick’s schools and daycares are safe for our children.”

The proposed legislation comes in the wake of similar policy decisions made elsewhere in the world, such as in Germany where legislation will make measles immunizations mandatory for all children and staff in kindergartens and schools, medical facilities, and community facilities, starting in March 2020.

“The provincial government is concerned about outbreaks around the world, such as the situation in Samoa where the lack of an immunization program has resulted in deaths and the declaration of a state of emergency,” said Cardy.

The legislative amendments introduced today would require students attending public schools and children in licensed early learning and child care facilities – either currently enrolled or being admitted for the first time – to provide either proof of immunization or a medical exemption on a form signed by a medical professional.

Similar proposed legislation regarding proof of immunization was introduced in June. Over the summer the proposed legislation was reviewed by the standing committee on law amendments but royal assent was not attained before the legislative assembly prorogued.

An Act Respecting Proof of Immunization would come into effect Sept. 1, 2021 and would:

  • remove sections in both the Education Act and the Public Health Act that allow non-medical exemptions to be presented in place of immunization records or medical exemption; and
  • result in modifications to the Licensing Regulation – Early Childhood Services Act which refers to practices outlined in the Public Health Act.

“Vaccines are a safe and proven way to prevent the spread of many potentially life-threatening diseases,” said Cardy. “This legislation is protecting individuals with compromised immune systems and will help keep our children safe, healthy and ready to learn.”