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A gym in Kitchener, Ontario has filed a constitutional court challenge to coronavirus pandemic-related stay-at-home orders which have forced the gym to shut its doors to patrons, Toronto Sun reports.
NorthXFit, which has been closed for nearly one month due to government-imposed lockdowns, has claimed in its suit that the stay-at-home orders violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The gym noted that while ordinary Ontarians are prohibited from exercising at gyms and fitness centres across the province, Olympic athletes and NHL players are exempt from such restrictions. The gym regards this discrimination as elitist and unfair.
"The ban on NorthXFit’s members and the public from use of the facilities, and by extension, their ability to associate with others, also imposes a burden upon them, and restricts their Charter freedom, solely because they are not Olympians, Paralympians or professional athletes," the gym claimed in court documents. "Those groups can still legally use, anywhere in Ontario, indoor fitness facilities catering to them."
Ryan O'Connor, a Toronto-area lawyer who represents NorthXFit, said that the case "is a broad challenge to the restrictions, not just with respect to my client."
NorthXFit also alleges the restrictions violates their duty under the Ontario Human Rights Code to provide "equal treatment with respect to services of user…who experience mental or physical disabilities, mental health challenges, cognitive impairments and/or special needs."
"At the gym, they still provide online fitness classes on Zoom, but some of her gym clients are visually impaired, so it’s useless for them to be on Zoom," O'Connor said. "And my client has an obligation to accommodate those individuals."
"The Charter requires that laws not have a discriminatory impact or exacerbate historical disadvantages," the document states, further claiming explicitly that the lockdown "has a discriminatory purpose and a discriminatory effect."
The gym asserted that they followed all coronavirus safety protocols while they were open during the pandemic.