A Canadian judge ruled that an unvaccinated father can not see his three children because he refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Justice Nathalie Godbout of the Court of Queen's Bench ruled on Monday that the father from New Brunswick would lose custody of his children. In her decision, Godbout wrote that she was ruling "with a heavy heart," but the unvaccinated posed a serious risk to the children – especially for the middle child who needs specialized care for non-cancerous tumors in her blood vessels.
"As the parents who are caring for [the child] 50 percent of the time, in close quarters, unmasked and unvaccinated, they are well-positioned to transmit the virus to [the child] should they contract it, this despite their best efforts," the ruling says.
The father alleged to have done "research" on the COVID-19 vaccines. The dad had a hesitancy to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine because of his questions about safety and efficacy. The father's argument was dismissed by the judge.
"His own anecdotal research on such a highly specialized topic carries little to no weight in the overall analysis when measured against the sound medical advice of our public health officials," Godbout writes in the 26-page court ruling.
Godbout added, "It is no contest: the current science in the face of a highly contagious virus far outweighs Mr. F.'s layman wait-and-see approach."
The judge allowed the father to have "generous" visiting rights via Zoom video conferencing, but no in-person contact.
If the dad gets vaccinated against COVID-19 he can return to court to attempt to repeal the decision.
The parents separated in 2019 and agreed to share custody of their three children.
The mother and father were also in disagreement about the children getting vaccinated. The mother wanted to get the children vaccinated when they became eligible in November, the father was against it. Godbout ruled that the mother could get the kids vaccinated without the father's consent. The children reportedly received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine following the ruling on Monday.
Grant Ogilvie – the lawyer who represented the mother in the case – said his client "was ecstatic in some regards, but this isn't a case where she wants to take the children away from their father."
"This is what's best for the children, period," Ogilvie told CBC. "She's acknowledged this is going to have an impact on the children, but she said, 'I have to do what's best for them.'"
Ogilvie said the ruling is the first of its kind in the province of New Brunswick, and will serve as a precedent for future cases.
In December, another Canadian father lost custody of his 12-year-old child after a Quebec judge ruled that it was in the child's "best interest" to bar the dad from seeing his child since he was unvaccinated.
In August, a Chicago mother temporarily lost custody of her child because she was unvaccinated against COVID-19.