BURLINGTON, Ontario, October 11, 2013 ( – A leading Catholic parents group is again urging supporters to put pressure on the Halton Catholic District School Board as the trustees discuss reversing their decision to let parents take their children to health officials themselves for an HPV vaccine rather than having it done through the Catholic schools.

Board trustees had discussed holding a snap vote on Tuesday, the day after Thanksgiving, to allow the HPV vaccine in the schools.

However, Teresa Pierre, Ph.D., president of Parents as First Educators, received an e-mail from the Director of Education’s executive assistant, Danielle Ross, on Thursday evening indicating that the board decided to hold off voting on the policy. “For your information, the item regarding HPV has been deleted from the October 15 agenda,” Ross said.

Pierre had called the prospect of a Tuesday vote an “outrageous abuse,” noting that there would have been no opportunity for feedback from parents and ratepayers. She applauded board chair Diane Rabenda today “for changing the agenda to allow time for the public to be consulted and provide input.”


Now Pierre’s group is urging supporters to sign and disseminate its petition as well as to contact, this weekend, Burlington trustees John Morrison and Arlene Iantomasi, both of whom expressed support at the October 1 board meeting to revisit the issue at the October 15 meeting.

(Sign PAFE’s petition here. Find contact information for Morrison and Iantomasi at bottom.)

Morrison had announced that the he would bring forward a motion to re-open debate on the vaccine.

“It is crucial that concerned Catholics not take the weekend off. We know that Thanksgiving is a time for family, not politics,” said Pierre. “But according to media coverage and their last meeting, trustees in the Halton Catholic board would rather defy the wishes of Catholic taxpayers and promote the use of the schools to do the wishes of big pharma in distributing the HPV vaccine. This is totally unnecessary. This vaccine is available to any parents in Canada through their family doctor or local health clinics.”

The school board initially allowed Halton’s health department to use their schools to give grade 8 girls the HPV vaccine in the fall of 2007. But they reversed course in June 2008 after parents expressed concerns over the severe health risks of the vaccine and that they were compromising the Church’s stance against premarital sex. The HPV virus is communicated through sexual contact.

At the board meeting on October 1, Oakville trustee Anthony Danko questioned the motives for raising the issue again. ”We all know why this is on the agenda. It's not because trustees requested it be on,” he said. “It's because a pharmaceutical lobby group sent us an e-mail and asked us to put it on the agenda. That's why it's on the agenda.”

Danko was referring to HPV Canada, a self-described advocacy group that successfully lobbied the Calgary Catholic School District in 2012 to allow the HPV vaccine in its schools despite opposition from Calgary Bishop Fred Henry. The group states on its website that it is now targeting Halton and eight smaller Catholic school districts in Alberta, the only remaining boards in Canada to not allow the vaccine in the schools.

“The Halton Catholic School Board is being targeted by those who wish to undermine the Church's teaching on chastity under the guise of women's health,” said Pierre. “We need concerned Catholics, even though it is Thanksgiving weekend, to not let up. The people who wish to promote the vaccine against the wishes of Catholic parents and other taxpayers will not be taking this weekend off.”

Among the chief concerns about the vaccine has been the high number of adverse reactions reported after taking it. In August, the British Medical Journal published an article with strong evidence showing that a 16 year-old Australian girl was made infertile due to the vaccine.

But it appears that was by no means an isolated case. In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration received reports of 28 deaths associated with the HPV vaccine. Among the 6,723 adverse reactions reported that year, 142 were deemed life threatening and 1,061 were considered serious.

Concerns over side effects have been so grave in other parts of the world that countries are starting to pull their support for the vaccine. Earlier this year, Japan announced they would stop recommending it while they conduct further investigation after reports of 2,000 adverse events, including 106 “serious cases of pains or body convulsions, pains in joints, or difficulty in walking.”

“Please send on the petition against removing the ban or remind other Catholics that the petition, which is doing very well, is still available for them and their friends and family to sign,” said Pierre.

“Second, please take a moment to contact anyone you know in Burlington so that they can contact the two trustees who are most supportive of the vaccine, John Morrison and Arlene Iantomasi,” she continued. “They need to hear from Catholics that re-opening the ban is confusing to students in the promotion of the Gospel's expectation of Christians to live a chaste life. You can email or call them. They must hear from their voters to be encouraged to stop trying to undo the ban overwhelming supported by voters previously.”

“If you live in Burlington, please not only sign the petition, and forward to others, but also contact your local trustee,” she added. “It is crucial these public officials hear from their voters. … It is still possible for them to decide not to try to undo the ban that is a source of encouragement for all Catholics in Canada.”

Sign PAFE’s petition here.


Arlene Iantomasi (Burlington 1 &2)
905-632-6314 x. 7182
[email protected]   

John Morrison (Burlington 4 & 5)
905-632-6314 x. 7184
[email protected]