The Law: Suspensions, Exemptions and Exclusions

Children and students who are up-to-date with their vaccinations are protected against many serious diseases and their complications. High rates of immunization help to ensure that outbreaks of disease do not occur in our communities. The Immunization of School Pupils Act and the Day Nurseries Act require all school students and children enrolled in daycares to be fully immunized, unless a valid medical or philosophical/religious exemption is in place.

Understanding the Law about Student Immunizations in Ontario


Young children in group settings, such as day cares or schools, are at a higher risk of becoming infected with communicable diseases. These communicable diseases can also pose a threat to others in the community.  Many of these diseases are preventable with adequate vaccination.  In Ontario:

  • the Day Nurseries Act (DNA) of 1990 (section 33) requires operators of licensed day nurseries to ensure that children who are under their care are immunized as recommended by the local Medical Officer of Health (Section 33 (1) and Section 62 (3), and
  • the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) of 1990 states that all children attending school in Ontario must meet one of its requirements.  The ISPA states that all children attending schools in Ontario must be adequately immunized against the following diseases: Diphtheria, Polio, Tetanus, Measles, Mumps and Rubella.


The Grey Bruce Health Unit is responsible for collecting and maintaining the immunization records of all children enrolled in daycare facilities, as well as all students enrolled in schools within Grey and Bruce counties, including private, public and catholic elementary and secondary schools.  These records are then kept within a secure database at the Health Unit.


Parents are responsible for providing their child’s immunization record to the Health Unit when registering their child for school or transferring their child to a school in Grey or Bruce Counties from another area.  Parents are also responsible for keeping the Health Unit informed every time their child gets another vaccination. 



Immunization information is not provided to the

Health Unit by a doctor’s office or Emergency

 Department, so it is the parent’s responsibility to

 provide it.






Suspension from School


If the Health Unit does not have a complete record, you will receive a phone call and/or letter about the missing information.  This will give you an opportunity to update your child’s record or to find the missing information and return a copy of it to the Health Unit with a given amount of time.

If the Health Unit does not receive this information in the given time, you will receive a notice of suspension until the appropriate documentation and/or immunizations are received. 

Note: The law also states that parents of children who refuse to have their children immunized or legally exempted are liable for a fine of up to $1,000.


What can I do if I do not want my child immunized?


Even though immunization is mandatory in Ontario, some children may be exempted under the following special circumstances:

  • appropriate medical reasons
  • religious or conscience belief


It is important for both the protection of the child and the community, that parents make an informed decision about not vaccinating their child.  See Vaccine Safety for more information.


Medical exemptions must be completed by a physician and will be given to children whose health could be affected by vaccinations.  Children who are already immune and have evidence to prove it may be exempted by a physician as well. Medical exemptions are not common and less than 1% of students in Grey and Bruce Counties have a valid medical exemption filed with the Health Unit.


Parents who do not want their child to have immunizations, or do not want a specific vaccine, can obtain a “Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief” Affidavit form. The Affidavit forms are available from the Grey Bruce Health Unit 519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456. The form must by witnessed by a person who is authorized to sign affidavits.  Persons authorized to sign affidavits, under the Commissioners for taking Affidavits Act (Revised 1990) include:

In Ontario: (Sec. 1. (1))

  • Member of the Assembly
  • Provincial judges or justices of the peace
  • Barristers and solicitors entitled to practice law in Ontario
  • Local municipality: (Sec. 1. (2))
  • Medical Officer of Health (area with population > 100,000)
  • Administrative heads (building standards, welfare, assessment or planning)
  • Clerks, deputy clerks and treasurers of local municipalities
  • Heads of municipal councils, reeves of towns, deputy reeves, members of city council.


These exemptions are not common. Only about 2% of students in Grey and Bruce Counties have valid conscience/religious belief exemptions filed with the Health Unit.


Exclusion From School


In the event of an outbreak or threatened outbreak of any vaccine preventable disease included in the Immunization School Pupils Act or Day Nurseries Act legislation, the medical officer of health may order any student or daycare attendee who is not immune, regardless of legal exemptions filed with the Health Unit, to be excluded from school or daycare. In this case, the child may not be able to attend school or daycare for two to three weeks or until the outbreak of disease has ended.



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We work with the Grey Bruce community to protect and promote health

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Accredited with Exemplary Standing - Accreditation Canada

Grey Bruce Health Unit

101 17th Street East,

Owen Sound, ON  N4K 0A5

Phone: 519-376-9420 or