In June, 2019 the Government of New Brunswick introduced Bill 39. This bill makes changes to the Education Act, the Public Health Act, and the Early Childhood Services Act. It mandates that children will need proof of immunization to attend public school, early learning, and child care facilities. The list of vaccines required by law is specified in the Public Health Act.
Previously, the province required proof of immunization to attend public school. The law had allowed for those with a medical exemption or for parents providing a ‘declaration of objection.’ Bill 39 removes the exemption for the objection of parents.
Bill 39 has been debated at Second Reading and has been referred to the Standing Committee on Law and Amendments. The New Brunswick Legislative Assembly has opened public hearings into Bill 39. These hearings will take place between August 27 and 29th. The Clerk of the Assembly is also accepting written submissions until September 6th.
Why is ARPA commenting on this bill?
ARPA Canada does not take a position on whether Christians ought to vaccinate their children. We understand that this is a very charged issue, and one which elicits strong reactions from both sides. We also believe that well-meaning, faithful Christians can have opposite views on this issue. In fact, even within ARPA’s staff, there are strong differences of opinion on vaccinations.
Bill 39 has raised concern from some of our supporters across Canada about the issue of parental rights. ARPA’s interest in the case of New Brunswick’s Bill 39 relates only to this question of parental rights. Should parents have no right to object to the vaccination of their children, even when they have strong conscientious reasons to do so? We believe that, on Biblical principle, parents should have the final say about what medical procedures can be performed on their children, absent imminent life-threatening harm (e.g. refusing a blood transfusion for a child who will die very soon without it). The state also has an authority given it by God to rule over us, but this authority is limited in scope.
Parents have been given the primary authority over their children. That authority is from God, but of course this does not give us the right to do whatever we please. ARPA Canada’s booklet No Neutral Ground states the following,
The Bible teaches that parents are the primary authorities of their children. This is seen in God’s directions to Abraham in Gen. 18, God’s instructions to the people of Israel to teach their children his commands in Deut. 6, the generational instruction outlined in Psalm 78, or the entire book of Proverbs, filled with instructions on how to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22).
ARPA Canada’s involvement in this bill is to emphasize that point. Parents are the primary authority over their children. This right is not given by the state to the parent, but rather existed before the state. The role of the state is to respect and defend this parental authority.
We have seen how bills like New Brunswick’s Bill 39 can move from one province to another before those who have concerns can give voice to them. We want to give you an opportunity to voice your concerns about the loss of parental rights in relation to health care choices.
What can I do?
The New Brunswick Legislature is accepting written submissions on Bill 39. If you believe that parents should be able to opt out of mandatory vaccinations for conscientious reasons, then we would direct you to send a written submission to them sharing your concerns about this bill by September 6th. The email address to submit your concerns is [email protected].
Here are some possible talking points:
- Parents are the primary authorities over their children and the government should not usurp that role.
- Parents should have the right to object to unwanted medical procedures for their children. Absent imminent risk to the life of a child, the state should not interfere.
- Through Bill 39, the government is keeping some children from being able to attend school, without any public health crisis to justify such an imposition.
- The exemption to immunizations for conscientious objectors should be reinstated.