woman's hands on thick book

COVID-19 vaccination

In Tarkowski v Lemieux 2020 CarswellOnt 8070 (C.J.), Justice Jones dealt with the issue of how the parents would make decisions about having their child vaccinated, when and if a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

The six-year-old daughter had lived primarily with the mother since the parents separated in 2015. There had been a “high conflict” custody case, with each parent seeking sole custody. At that time, the father claimed that the mother had been negligent with respect to the child’s vaccinations. Ultimately, after the involvement of the OCL and direction from the judge, the mother did have the child vaccinated, but with much reluctance.

Justice Jones’ order, issued during the pandemic, granted the mother sole custody but gave the father sole decision making responsibility over the child’s vaccinations, noting:

  • There had been a history of the mother’s resistance to vaccinating the child
  • The mother had claimed a religious exemption so she could register the child in day care and school without having her vaccinated, and did not tell the father this
  • She took almost three years to complete the child’s vaccinations, even after she agreed to do so

Justice Jones encouraged the parents to meet together with the child’s doctor, in the event a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, but granted the father “the unilateral power to consent to [child’s name] being vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Supervised access in domestic violence case

Thibert v Thibert 2020 CarswellOnt 8441 (S.C.J.): The father had been having supervised access with his children prior to the pandemic. He is facing domestic violence charges, which Justice Pomerance described as “serious and, on their face, raise concerns about safety.”

In making her initial decision for supervised access, Justice Pomerance balanced the importance of the children having an ongoing relationship with their father, the fact that the charges against him had not yet been proven in court and the need for access arrangements to “protect the safety of all family members.”

It appeared that the formal supervised access was going well, but the pandemic led to the closure of the supervised access centre, and the parents were not able to agree on an alternative arrangement.

Justice Pomerance rejected the father’s initial proposal that his mother and brother supervise access because she was concerned that close family members might “feel conflicted about recording or reporting problems during access visits, for fear that it will prejudice father’s position on the criminal charges.”

The father then proposed six alternatives who were friends or acquaintances of his, all of whom provided affidavits affirming that they did not have pending criminal charges or criminal records, were aware of the charges against the father, had no personal knowledge of the allegations, were willing and able to supervise the father’s time with the children, understood that this was a legal undertaking, were following COVID-19 protocols at home and work and had valid drivers’ licences and were willing to transport the children.

The mother did not accept any of these alternatives because she didn’t know them, but did not suggest any other possible access supervisors.

Justice Pomerance found that the father’s proposed supervisors were appropriate. She also increased the father’s access from two to four hours a week.