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Coates, GraceLife church suing AHS, provincial health officials

Last Updated Jun 10, 2021 at 1:54 pm MDT

A truck arrives at GraceLife church outside Edmonton. The church has been ordered to close after continously defying public health orders. (PHOTO: CityNews Edmonton)

EDMONTON – Pastor James Coates and GraceLife Church near Edmonton are suing Alberta Health Services and government officials to try to get the church back from the province.

The court application also includes Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

Coates and GraceLife are charged with violating the public health act for having held normal church services from Nov. 2020 to Easter Sunday, 2021.

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AHS and the province set up fencing around the church grounds to stop congregants from gathering illegally back in April.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms says the fences have not stopped churchgoers from gathering and that congregants meet secretly at new locations each week.

A judge recently ruled that the religious freedoms Coates, who was on trial for violating COVID-19 regulations, were not violated.

READ MORE: Judge dismisses charter application of pastor on trial for violating health orders

Coates made a charter application in relation to a ticket he received on Dec. 20 under the Public Health Act.

Provincial court Judge Robert Shaigec dismissed the application, adding the trial is to reconvene at the end of the to decide on the constitutionality of Alberta public health orders that have limited attendance at places of worship.

-with files from the Canadian Press