The Mask Exemption Toolkit on this page will empower you to defend your right not to wear a mask.
Summary: Defending Your Mask Exemption
1. Know Your Rights
Every province in Canada has a Human Rights Commission. Please follow the relevant link below for information regarding mask exemptions and Human Rights in your province. In general an establishment may not refuse service to any person who is unable to wear a mask due to physical, psychological or religious reasons. Denial of service for those who have a mask exemption is a contravention of both the Canadian and your provincial Human Rights Acts. Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, convictions for contravention of the Human Rights Act can carry a penalty of up to $50,000.00. See the links below for provincial penalties.
Furthermore, even being asked to wear a mask could be construed as harassment. The following definition of harassment is from the Alberta Human Rights Commission...
"Harassment occurs when someone is subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct. Harassment is a form of discrimination..." and "Discrimination has occurred if...the harassment is insulting or intimidating." Note that you are the judge of whether or not you were intimidated. Other provinces and the Canadian Human Rights Commission will have similar definitions.
Information on mask exemptions from provincial Human Rights Commissions:
- British Columbia: A human rights approach to mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Alberta: COVID-19 and Human Rights
- Saskatchewan: COVID-19, Disability, and the Code
- Manitoba: COVID-19 and The Human Rights Code
- Ontario: COVID-19 and Ontario’s Human Rights Code
- Quebec: Your rights and COVID-19
- New Brunswick: Mandatory masks in compliance with Human Rights Act
- Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Statement on COVID-19 Pandemic
- Northwest Territories: COVID 19 Statement
- Newfoundland and Labrador: COVID-19 and Human Rights – Best Practices
- Prince Edward Island: Frequently Asked Questions on Mask Wearing Requirements
- Yukon: COVID-19 FAQs
- Canada: Statement COVID-19
2. Your Rights in Brief
Anywhere in Canada...
1. The Human Rights Acts of Canada supercede any provincial, federal or municipal Health Orders.
2. The following are valid reasons for claiming a mask exemption:
- medical disability
- psychological issues
- exercise of religious freedoms
- intellectual impairments
3. Denial of service for those who cannot wear a mask is discrimination.
4. Being continually asked to wear a mask could be construed by a court as harassment.
3. How to Defend Your Rights
Print and carry with you the letter here provided by Human Rights lawyers. If you are approached by an employee and told that you are required to wear a mask, do the following...
- Stay calm
- Explain that they (the employee) are acting in contravention of the Human Rights Acts of your province and of Canada, specifically that denial of service to those who cannot wear a mask is discrimination and furthermore that even being asked to wear a mask could be construed in a court of law as harassment.
- Show them the letter and suggest that they review it with their manager.
If they do not relent...
- Explain that if they continue in their discriminatory behaviour you will file a Human Rights Complaint against them and that convictions carry a penalty up to $50,000.00.
- Also explain that the complaint will be filed against them personally as they are the one committing the offense.
- Finally, you may wish to mention that under the Nuremberg Act, 'I was just doing my job' is not a valid defense. Every person is expected to uphold the law. Store policies cannot contravene the law.
Under the Privacy Act (PIPEDA: Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) you are not required to reveal or explain the reason for your exemption. A health or government agency has the right to request your medical records from your doctor. It is up to your doctor to decide if they will provide them.
Mask Exemptions Letter
This document has been prepared by Lawyers4Truth and covers how businesses that deny service to those who have mask exemptions are in violation of Human Rights. It also addresses the myth that the Trespass Act allows them to pick and choose whom they serve.
This version of the letter references the Alberta Human Rights Act. The lawyers are currently working on a version that is not province-specific and will apply Canada-wide. Please check back soon.
Download this to your phone
Mask Exemption Toolkit Summary
If you are concerned that you will not remember how to defend your mask exemption download this summary to your phone for quick reference.
To download the image:
On your phone: Press and hold on the image. Select 'Download Image'. Your phone should save the image to your Image Library.
On a computer: Right-click the image and select 'Save Image As'. Save it to your computer. You can then connect your phone to your computer to transfer the image to your image library.
4. How to File a Human Rights Complaint
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you file a Human Rights complaint you will be required to prove your exemption when you file. The strongest cases from a legal perspective are medical and psychological. Other exemptions such as exercise of religious freedoms may be problematic. You may want to consult with a Human Rights advisor before proceeding. All provincial Human Rights Commission offices do provide free consultations prior to filing.
How to File a Human Rights Complaint
A Guide from Rebel News
Rebel News has created guides for each province on how to file a Human Rights Complaint. Simply follow the link below. The cost of filing a complaint is minimal.
5. Should I File a Human Rights Complaint?
You should absolutely file a complaint if:
- You have been denied service
- A service alternative, such as curbside pickup, can be shown to be discriminatory (an example of this would be a grocery store - you cannot pick your own produce or meats and must take what they give you. This is clear discrimination).
- You were publicly embarrassed or threatened, even if service was not denied.
It is essential that we stand up for our rights or risk losing them forever. If you experience any of the above conditions we strongly advise you to file a complaint.
Before filing a complaint be sure you can document having approached the offending party. This does not require a recording, but you should write down the details of the encounter with the time, date and specific location as soon as possible afterwards. A recording is even better but we understand that may not have been the first thing on your mind at the time.
Legal Exemption Cards
Provided by Lawyers4Truth
Our partners at Lawyers4Truth.ca are providing legal exemption cards with a nice little hint of legal menace for anyone who harasses you. The image shown is an actual card. Currently only available in Alberta.
Mask Exemption Poster
Post your defence
Mask exemptions are guaranteed by both the Alberta Mask Bylaw and by the Alberta Human Rights Commission. If AHS or bylaw harasses you for not forcing your customers or employees to wear a mask, our Guide above provides the response you should give, while the poster shows the public that denying service is a violation of Human Rights.
The lawyers are currently working on a version of this poster that is not province-specific and will apply Canada-wide. Please check back soon.