Ontario woman says daughter was discriminated against over face mask
An Ontario woman believes her daughter was discriminated against after she was allegedly kicked out of a local activity centre over her choice to wear a face mask.
Jane Bedford said she signed her 11-year-old daughter up for a series of classes called “Ninja Warrior Parkour” at Discipline Wrestling in Ancaster, just west of Hamilton.
Bedford told CTV News Toronto she paid $260 for a pack of eight sessions at the gym, which features monkey bars, swinging ropes, and trampolines for the students to navigate through.
She said her daughter attended and enjoyed the first session masked in the indoor facility without issue, noting that the owner of the gym was not present at the time.
Two weeks later, the mother and daughter went for session number two with their masks on and said they were greeted by the owner.
“'Oh, you don’t have to wear a mask here,’” Bedford recalled the owner saying to her.
- Download our app to get local alerts to your device
- Get the latest local updates right to your inbox
Bedford said the owner suggested that, due to the physicality of the class, her child should be unmasked during the session. Bedford said she explained to the owner that her daughter had already participated in a class with a mask on, and that it was her preference to wear the face covering in the indoor space.
"And he said, 'No. You can't. You have to take it off,'" Bedford said. "I said 'I don’t think you’re legally allowed to tell us to take it [the mask] off.' And then he said, "I am and you can get out' and showed us the door."
She said she was left “aghast” and that her daughter, who was present during the interaction, was scared by being spoken to in such a stern manner by a stranger.
Bedford and her daughter are Indigenous, and she said discrimination hits close to home.
“We talked about ... her ancestors and how discrimination happens. And it just got her madder and madder,” she said.
Now, Bedford is trying to get her money back for the outstanding classes she purchased but alleges the company is ignoring her. Moreover, she wants an apology.
"I really just want them to apologize to my daughter. I want her to realize that there are repercussions for discrimination."
Discipline Wrestling did not respond to CTV News Toronto's request for comment.
CAN A BUSINESS BAN MASKS?
Richard Powers is a University of Toronto associate professor with expertise in business and corporate law and called the situation "ridiculous."
"We've seen a lot of unreasonable activity during this whole pandemic. But in a situation like this, where the child wants to wear a mask, the business is required to make reasonable accommodations," Powers told CTV News Toronto over the phone.
“And a reasonable accommodation, for this, would be to let her wear the mask. There’s no risk to anyone. In fact, it’s safer.”
Mask mandates in most public settings were lifted in Ontario on March 21.
Ever since then, wearing a mask in places such as gyms, restaurants, movie theatres, and sports venues has become a personal choice. Even as premier, Doug Ford has told Ontarians that “if you want to keep the mask on, keep it on,” after the mandate was lifted.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health echoed that advice in an email to CTV News Toronto.
“Businesses and organizations may choose to implement their own rules related to masking. However, they must follow any applicable laws (e.g., Human Rights Code, Occupational Health and Safety Act) and should obtain independent legal advice should they consider doing so.”
While it’s unclear if the decision by Discipline Wrestling is in contravention of the Ontario Human Rights Code, Powers suggests it could be.
"Anything that would deviate from a reasonable accommodation could be, I would say, a human rights violation," he said.
"But again, you have to think that cooler heads are going to prevail…At least from what we’ve heard, there’s no reasonable explanation as to why they would refuse to allow the child to wear a mask," Powers said.
Toronto Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Many Canadians remain unaware of the involvement of forced child labour in the products they buy, according to non-profit agency World Vision Canada.
Hundreds of protesters descended on the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday to denounce the justice's decision to overturn the half-century-old Roe v. Wade precedent that recognized women's constitutional right to abortion.
As Pride festivities kick off around the world, many refugees are celebrating the LGBTQ2S+ community for the first time.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau headed to the G7 summit in Germany on Saturday without a consensus from the Commonwealth to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but with a chorus of countries calling for help to overcome the fallout of the war.
The World Health Organization said the escalating monkeypox outbreak in nearly 50 countries should be closely monitored but does not warrant being declared a global health emergency.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, holding that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion, protesters and supporters of the ruling gathered at the high court's building in Washington, D.C., and in other cities nationwide.
With the nation's capital bracing for anticipated anti-mandate 'freedom' movement protests during Canada Day weekend, interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen says her MPs are free to attend.
A barge that ran aground near Vancouver's English Bay last year quickly became an accidental attraction, drawing selfie-seekers and inspiring T-shirt designs. But after seven months, residents seem to have grown weary of its hulking presence on the shoreline.
Ukraine's largest LGBTQ rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration.
Paramedics in Greater Montreal are stretched particularly thin this weekend, with nearly half the territory's ambulances parked due to a staffing shortage.
Police on Montreal's South Shore has located the suspect vehicle they say was involved in a hit-and-run that left a woman dead.
Friends and family of a 17-year-old girl who died in what police are calling an accident on the shore in LaSalle gathered Saturday to remember the Montreal teen who her mother said was 'was full of life.'
A motorcyclist was airlifted to the hospital with unknown injuries Saturday morning following a crash in Bayham, Ont.
The identity of a pedestrian who died after being struck by a vehicle on Walpole Island has been released by police.
The Chatham-Kent police Major Crime Unit is working alongside the Ontario Fire Marshall’s Office to determine the cause of a house fire after a body was found inside the home.
A fire at a townhouse complex in Kitchener Friday night has resulted in extensive damage.
Many in Waterloo Region are reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and what it could mean for Canada.
Norfolk County OPP are investigating after they say a pedestrian was found on the side of a road and had to be airlifted to hospital.
Nipissing-Timiskaming Liberal MP Anthony Rota said he was shocked by Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling.
With hundreds of students from India who attend Northern College, and other professionals from India who've moved to the city to work, organizers said they felt it was time to bring everyone together to celebrate their culture with the rest of the community.
A group of friends doing work on a camp in MacGregor Bay helped contain what could have been a devastating fire in Killarney Provincial Park.
The summer festival season in Ottawa kicked off this weekend with thousands gathering for events across the city.
Someone called 911 from Britannia Beach at approximately 7:15 p.m. Saturday, reporting four people had fallen off a paddleboard and were floating towards the Deschenes Rapids in Ottawa's west end.
There are no reports of injuries after two jet skis collided near Petrie Island Bay in Ottawa's east end.
Essex County theatre opening doors of artist residency home to U.S. women seeking abortions in Canada
A theatre company in Essex County is opening up one of its spaces to American women seeking abortion services in Canada, following the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark reversal of Roe v. Wade.
No one was injured, but six people have been displaced following a house fire Friday morning.
The program has been extended by two weeks, past its June 30th deadline in Barrie, but advocates say a permanent solution is needed.
The Town of Innisfil is working to ensure everyone, no matter their circumstances, has a chance to dip their toes in the waters as summer is in full swing.
Two Georgian Bay communities are now one again as a critical piece of infrastructure has officially reopened to traffic.
An Amber Alert issued by Cape Breton Regional Police on Friday has been cancelled, as the missing youth has been located safe early Saturday morning says police.
The inquiry into Nova Scotia’s 2020 mass shooting, says four pages of handwritten notes that sparked a political firestorm in Ottawa this week, weren’t immediately submitted when subpoenaed by its investigators.
'It’s in shambles': RCMP 'architects of own demise,' says criminologist after complaints in N.B. and N.S.
After a week of criticism and anger at the Mass Casualty Commission in Nova Scotia, and outcry in a rural area of New Brunswick, there are questions about the RCMP’s role in community policing.
Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 321 yards and Malik Henry scored a third-quarter, go-ahead touchdown for the Calgary Stampeders in a 30-23 win over the visiting Edmonton Elks on Saturday.
Nearly 100 Ukrainian members of Calgary’s community marched in protest calling for the release of Azovstal Iron and steel workers, defending Mariupol from Russian attacks.
After the U.S. Supreme Court stripped away constitutional protections for abortion Friday by overturning Roe v. Wade, NDP Leader Rachel Notley demanded that everyone running to become the next leader of the UCP clarify their stance on the issue.
Using a trailer or an RV is an easy way for people to get out of the city and into the outdoors, but with soaring gas prices, the cost of driving with one has gone up drastically.
Winnipeg was once again pummelled by rain on Friday and the city came close to setting a rainfall record.
No one was injured but one pet died after an early morning fire Saturday.
As the first sustained heat of the season settles in across B.C.'s south coast, Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a special weather statement advising people of high temperatures and humidex values through Monday.
Metro Vancouver is experiencing its first stretch of hot summer weather this weekend and people are scouring stores looking for air conditioners and fans to cool off – some being met with empty shelves.
The family of a Vancouver police officer who died by suicide is suing the department, alleging she endured sexual assault and exploitation enabled by an "unsafe workplace culture and insufficient policies and procedures," court documents show.
Fans leaving the Garth Brooks concert at Commonwealth Stadium Friday night were happy and smiling, despite some logistical issues that delayed the show and frustrated some.
A Member of Parliament from rural Alberta went live on Facebook Friday to celebrate a United States Supreme Court vote to end constitutional protections for abortion.
Hundreds of people gathered in front of Edmonton City Hall Saturday to celebrate the first large Pride event in the city in four years, and the first one in Churchill Square in eight.