By: Paul Staley
Breaking news – the quarantine hotels case filed by the Canadian Constitution Foundation was due in court yesterday to decide on an injunction hearing.
The quarantine hotels are government-approved accommodations (GAA) for travellers. The travellers are forcibly confined until they can obtain negative results from a COVID-19 test. The cost is also placed on the individual forced to be there regardless of how long they stay. To opt out of staying at one of these facilities means the issuance of a fine up to $3400.
The JCCF has put out a release in regards to the court case – you can view that release here.
Jay Cameron, the Litigation Director at the Justice Centre had the following to say about the situation:
“Quarantine, particularly of healthy or asymptomatic individuals, is the functional equivalent of house arrest and the Justice Centre will not allow it to continue unchallenged,” he stated. “The forced isolation of Canadians contravenes multiple Charter protections, are unnecessary and are not a minimal impairment of Canadians’ constitutional rights and freedoms. They are an oppressive overreach from a government that has lost sight of the restrictions on its power”.
The test he is referring to is the Oakes proportionality test – you can read about that here. The basic concept of the test is that the reasons for the violation of a right must be pressing and substantial – but the means must all be proportional to the objective.
The first part of the test is that the law or objective must be rationally connected to the objective. In this case, is it rationally connected to say that isolating in a government-run quarantine facility instead of at home (many have suitable plans) reduces the spread of Covid?
The second part of the test is does the provision minimally impair the Charter right? Put in other words – could the same result be achieved in a way that doesn’t violate the Charter right as much?
The last part of the test is the proportionate effects. Even if the government satisfies the first two steps – the effects of the provision on Charter rights may be “too high a price” to pay for the advantage the provision would provide.
In other words, the provision must be proportionate to the stated objective. We will find out soon what the courts will have to say on the matter.
This case is also being challenged in Quebec by the Justice Center according to Van Geyn who is the litigation director at the Canadian Constitution Foundation. Evidence is due April 23rd and we look forward to covering it as it develops.
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