Southwestern Ont. churches lose court challenge over COVID-19 restrictions

A pair of southwestern Ontario churches have lost their court challenge against the province over COVID-19 religious gathering restrictions.

Lawyers for The Church of God in Aylmer, Ont. and the Trinity Bible Chapel in Waterloo, Ont. argued that measures to curb the spread of the virus violated the right to freedom of religion and assembly under the Constitution.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice Renée Pomerance released her decision earlier this week.

Pomerance says that while the restrictions were not ideal for the churches involved, they were reasonable and did not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Religious institutions were affected, but no more than was reasonably necessary and for no longer than was reasonably required,” she wrote.

“Ontario accounted for the importance of religious activity by allowing greater latitude for religious than non-religious gatherings. Limits on religious activities were less stringent than limits on social events and public performance events,” Pomerance added.

Trinity Bible Chapel is shown in this file image (Dan Lauckner / CTV News Kitchener)

In January of 2021, both the Church of God and Trinity Bible Chapel held large in-person services that flouted public safety restrictions.

The province had to obtain a restraining order against both churches under the Ropening Ontario Act.

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