Parent seeks reimbursement for equipment after OMHA's vaccine policy benches sons
The Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy is being met with continued frustration.
The OMHA has mandated vaccination for all players, coaches and staff, including youth 12 to 18.
Some parents are pushing to be reimbursed for the expensive equipment they bought for the season now that their kids can’t join the league.
“We’re in for over $2,000 worth of equipment that they’ve only been able to use twice and now not able to play,” said Tony Cortina, whose kids play Paris minor hockey.
Cortina purchased new equipment including hockey sticks and skates for his sons, 14 and 16, about a month before the association announced its vaccine mandate so his kids could take part in skills clinics.
Because his sons have chosen to not get vaccinated, they are unable to play.
The OMHA’s policy states everyone eligible for the shot must show proof in order to play, but the province’s guidelines exempt youth aged 12 to 18 playing organized sports from providing proof of vaccination.
“They were very distraught, very upset and they just don’t understand,” said Cortina.
He said while the league is refunding his registration fee, he has not heard back from the association about being reimbursed for equipment.
“Our vaccination policy puts the health and safety of our participants first and foremost. We are doing everything we can to keep our participants as safe as possible and to ensure the season is long-lasting. This was not an easy decision," the OMHA said in an emailed statement.
Cortina called the vaccine mandate “very discriminating,” adding he feels it’s “causing a huge segregation in the community.”
All eligible players will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31 to be on a team roster.
The OMHA said when it comes to enforcement, it does not plan to check people’s proof of vaccination when they enter facilities but it’s up to provincial and municipal representatives.
However, the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo all confirmed this week they will follow provincial guidance regarding checking proof of vaccination at recreation centre entrances and are not responsible for enforcing the OMHA’s policy.