Limiting Freedom of Religion in a Pandemic: The Constitutionality of Restrictions on Religious Gatherings in a Response to COVID-19
Restrictions on religious gathering as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic are a contentious issue. This article surveys the measures restricting religious gatherings and the legal challenges to those measures. There are three principal arguments that restrictions on religious gatherings are unconstitutional: (1) they lack instrumental rationality; (2) they are discriminatory; and (3) their deleterious effects outweigh their salutary effects. While the restriction measures likely limit section 2(a) and potentially section 15(1) rights under the Charter, these limits are justified because less restrictive alternatives to the measures are not equally effective, the measures are non-discriminatory, and their contribution to protecting Canadians from illness and death outweigh their deleterious effects. The article concludes with recommendations for future government measures directed at religious gatherings.
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