This article is about a recent event in eastern Canada, but it should ring a cautionary bell for people around the world, since we will all soon be facing a similar issue.
New Brunswick’s education minister Dominic Cardy is fuming because an amendment to provincial legislation that he championed was recently defeated in a free vote. Had it been successful, the amendment would have made numerous vaccinations mandatory for school children in New Brunswick, removing an exemption that previously existed for students whose parents filed a written objection.
According to Mr. Cardy, “There are no two sides [to the debate] around the safety of vaccines.” He described opponents of his bill as having given in to “medieval conspiracy theories.” Rhetoric like this is common these days.
However, existing legislation in the Canadian province of Ontario indicates that Mr. Cardy and those who make similar statements are profoundly misinformed on this subject.
In June, 1987, Ontario adopted a law on immunization that’s now section 38 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. It applies to the vaccines for 13 different diseases, including diphtheria, polio, measles and influenza. It requires doctors, nurses and pharmacists to watch for and report any adverse reactions to the vaccines they administer, including:
crying or screaming, or anaphylactic shock, within 48 hours of vaccination
collapse, high fever, or convulsions occurring within 3 days of
occurring within 42 days of vaccination
seizures, encephalopathy, brain inflammation or other significant
occurrence within 15 days of vaccination
following any of the symptoms already described.
The 1987 legislation came about through the efforts of then MPP Jack Pierce, who spoke in the legislature about eight cases of severe vaccine injuries that had recently occurred in his riding of only 30,000 people. It was drafted after extensive consultations with the medical community. It was “doctor-approved” law, in a day when it was still permitted to discuss all sides of the vaccine issue without being ridiculed or silenced.
Patients can and do suffer vaccine injuries of the kind described in Ontario’s legislation far more often than Mr. Cardy seems to be aware of.
The vaccines used in Canada are the same as those used in the United States, and there’s a little-known database of vaccine injuries available to anyone who cares to look. That’s because the US abolished tort liability against vaccine manufacturers in 1986 through the
. Instead of suing vaccine manufacturers, injured persons are now
restricted to making a claim against a government-run compensation fund called
the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The program reports monthly on the
compensation it pays out.
Since inception, the program has paid out more than $4 billion in compensation to 7,252 individuals suffering vaccine injuries (figures as of May 1, 2020). This is a significant amount of money. Some vaccine injuries are devastating. They can include permanent brain damage.
These figures underestimate the extent of the damage done by vaccines because the compensation program has a strict time limit for making application. Many parents of vaccine-injured children don’t find out about the compensation fund until after that window of opportunity has shut.
According to a World Health Organization publication from 2011, there are 19 countries around the world that have recognized the dangers inherent in vaccines by implementing compensation programs for individuals who have been injured by them. Germany was the first to implement such a program in 1961, eight years after the German Supreme Court ruled that people injured by mandatory vaccinations (smallpox, in that case) were entitled to compensation.
In the 1970s, eight countries recognized the dangers of the “DTP” (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis) vaccine by adopting compensation programs for the vaccine-injured. These included Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
In 1972, a five-year-old girl in Quebec was vaccinated against measles as part of the province’s large-scale free vaccination program. She developed acute viral encephalitis, resulting in almost total permanent disability. The family sued the Quebec government, and initially obtained a judgment of $385,000. The trial court explicitly found a causal relationship between the vaccine and the child’s encephalitis. The compensation award was eventually overturned by the Quebec Court of Appeal on the grounds that Quebec civil law does not recognize no-fault liability. However, even at the Supreme Court of Canada in 1985, “the Attorney General [was] no longer disputing the causal link between the vaccine and the encephalitis.
As a result of this case, Quebec became the only Canadian province to adopt a vaccine compensation program. Between its inception in 1988 and April 1, 2019 (the latest date for which statistics are available), it had paid compensation to 51 vaccine-injured individuals, in an amount totaling $5,797,000.
A study was published in 2011 by scientists associated with the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto. It showed that when infants aged 12 months or 18 months were injected with live vaccines (such as the MMR—measles, mumps, rubella vaccine), they were significantly more likely to visit the hospital emergency room within the next twelve days, as compared with the number of visits they would make during a control period that did not follow vaccination.
What additional evidence would it take for Mr. Cardy to recognize that there are indeed two sides to the vaccine safety debate?
Parents faced with the prospect of mandatory vaccinations for their children are perfectly justified in their concerns. They are not part of a “medieval conspiracy theory”. It is very disturbing that an individual in a position of power such as education minister Cardy is both ignorant of the facts and willing to vilify individuals who are more knowledgeable than he is himself.
Karen Selick [send her mail] obtained her LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) degree at the University of Toronto in 1976. She retired from practicing law in 2015 and then spent two years studying holistic nutrition at the Edison Institute of Nutrition. She has been a freelance writer for over 30 years. Her work has appeared in The Freeman, Fraser Forum, the National Post, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Lawyer magazine, and elsewhere.
Copyright © Karen Selick