Parents who refused to send their children to school without medical justification and despite a condition that allowed them to do so lost a battle against the government in Superior Court on Monday.
The parents’ group demanded the right of their children to continue their education at home during the pandemic. Represented by lawyer Julius Gray, the group supported its request, in particular, on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
But according to the decree instituting the return to school adopted on August 19 by the Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge, only children who would be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 would have the right to stay at home, provided a justification medical.
The defendants’ arguments did not convince Judge Chantal Chatelain, who explained her decision at length in a 50-page document.
The latter believes that “by offering distance education only to students for whom a doctor has recommended that they not attend a school, the government is ensuring respect for the school’s mission, namely to instruct , to socialize and to qualify pupils while respecting the principle of equal opportunities, while reasonably protecting the health of the most vulnerable ”.
Justice Chatelain added that “the contested measure does not violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs”.
The judgment was greeted with disappointment by the group of defendant parents. In a Facebook post published Monday afternoon on the page “Action juridique / Legal Challenge to Quebec’s Back-to-School plan”, they believe in particular that the judge “effectively avoids fundamental questions relating to the rights guaranteed by the Charter in center of the matter ”, namely:“ in the context of the pandemic, who – parents or the government – should make decisions concerning the best interests of the children? ”
The group of plaintiffs, legally composed of six mothers symbolically supported by many other parents, said they “need time to digest the full decision and discuss the next steps, if any, with our lawyers.”
Thus, until further notice, parents will need medical proof to refuse to send their children to school.