Judge Sébastien Vaillancourt of the Quebec Superior Court has suspended a father's visitation rights due to the man being unvaccinated against COVID-19.
It's no secret that the Québec government has imposed a handful of restrictions on unvaccinated populations, including Premier Legault's most recent plans to significantly tax the unvaccinated. But it seems as if the personal decision to get vaccinated or not is creating major issues for one Montreal father.
Judge Vaillancourt temporarily barred the man from visiting his 12-year-old son in a December 23 ruling after he attempted to change his custody arrangement for part of the holiday season.
The father had petitioned for a review of his access rights, requesting to see his son between December 30, 2021, and January 9, 2022. The boy's mother contested the request after learning that the man was not vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a court document.
Considering the rampant spread of the Omicron variant, Vaillancourt wrote that while it would normally be in the best interest of the child to see his father, he believed the current epidemiological situation mandated otherwise.
The child, who is currently vaccinated with both doses, also lives with his 7-month-old and 4-year-old half-siblings.
The judge said he also weighed the risk of infection spreading to the younger children, who are not eligible for vaccination, in his decision to suspend visitation rights until at least February 8, 2022.
When the father was questioned regarding his decision to remain unvaccinated, he made clear he had "reservations," but did not explain what they were, Vaillancourt wrote in the decision.
The court further pointed to several of the father's Facebook posts indicating doubts about government health rules, suggesting, Vaillancourt said, that he is a "conspiracy theorist" and undermining his claims that he follows public health measures.
The suspension can be re-evaluated depending on the evolution of the COVID-19 situation, and whether the man abides by health regulations and chooses to get vaccinated. The father is currently set for another hearing on February 8.
"We planned a very large buffer for the vacation period. But this was not sufficient due to the high rate of people calling in sick," said Lufthansa in a statement shared with Narcity.
The German-based airline didn't specifically name Omicron, but other airlines have blamed the variant for forcing them to cancel flights.
"The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation," United told Narcity in a statement. "As a result, we've unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport."
According to FlightAware, United cancelled 201 flights on December 24 and more than 230 flights on Christmas Day. Delta cancelled 173 flights on December 24 and 301 flights on December 25. Between the two airlines over two days, that's a total of at least 900 flights.
Delta told ABC News this happened because its teams had "exhausted all options and resources -- including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying — before cancelling around 90 flights for Friday."
"We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight," said Delta in its statement to ABC.
Overall, FlightAware shows a total of 2,380 flight cancellations on December 24 and 2,586 cancellations on December 25. The airline with the most reported Christmas Day cancellations is China Eastern with 545 cancelled flights.
Austalia's 7 News reported that Jetstar cancelled dozens of flights on Christmas Eve because "frontline staff have needed to get tested and isolate as close contacts."
Three cancelled flights at YUL
So far, however, if you're travelling out of the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport aka YUL, you'll very likely be able to take off. Whether or not you can arrive at your destination depends on where you're transferring.
Only three Christmas Day flights are currently cancelled at YUL: two Air Canada flights to New York (LaGuardia) at 1:25 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. as well as a British Airways flight to London (Heathrow) at 9 p.m.
It's not clear why these particular flights were cancelled.
At the time this was published, there were no cancellations scheduled for December 26.
"We, the undersigned, demand that the Government of Quebec publicly reject, as of now, the idea of a mandatory vaccination passport and that it commit itself to do like the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has done, that is to say, prohibit the obligation to present a vaccination passport in order to attend certain events and practice certain activities," the petition states.
Samson, a former Coalition Avenir Québec member who switched sides in June, held a press conference about the petition alongside Conservative Party of Quebec leader Eric Duhaime on August 12. They explained that the party had already collected 133,000 signatures on a previous petition that did not meet the criteria of the National Assembly.
"We reviewed the wording [...] So we're going to ask these hundreds of thousands of people to re-sign their petition on the National Assembly website, and we're going to invite Quebecers who don't agree with the vaccine passport to come forward as well," Samson said.
The petition, which was posted to the National Assembly website on August 12, had garnered more than 75,000 signatures at the time this article was published.
On August 13, the Government of Canada announced that it plans to require employees and certain travellers in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors to be vaccinated.
This includes all commercial air travellers, passengers taking the train between provinces, and passengers on "large marine vessels with overnight accommodations," like cruise ships.
However, the government announcement specified that there will be exceptions. Those who are unable to be vaccinated may receive accommodation, such as testing or screening instead.
"Driving vaccine uptake in Canada to as high a level as possible is one of the most effective, and least disruptive, means at our disposal to sustain the gains we have made in recent months," said Jean-Yves Duclos, president of Canada's Treasury Board, in a statement.
The feds have yet to announce the specific dates that the new vaccine rules come into effect. But, according to the announcement, it will be "as soon as possible in the fall and no later than the end of October."