The president of the Canadian Medical Association is calling for the bullying of public health officials to stop.
In a statement, Dr. Ann Collins says the issue has been escalating since the pandemic began and online harassment has evolved into threats and in-person intimidation.
“We must speak out against such intimidation and urge those responsible for overseeing social media platforms and law enforcement bodies to put an end to this highly alarming conduct.”
Earlier this week, police in Regina responded after protests were staged outside the home of Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer.
The Saskatchewan Medical Association released a statement saying the demonstrators’ behaviour amounted to harassment and intimidation of Dr. Saqib Shahab.
Last fall, Quebec’s director of public health revealed he had been assigned a driver and a bodyguard because he had received threats. A small group of protesters had also appeared outside his home.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, said last fall that she had received death threats and had to have security at her house.
“As a public health professional and in my role as a servant to the public I’ve heard for many months many different opinions from Albertans,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
“Some have expressed those opinions in very respectful ways even when they have disagreed, and I really appreciate that because that is the most productive form of dialogue. Others have been less respectful and that is not the most productive way of expressing concerns.”
Collins says that peaceful protests are important but the actions towards health officials have crossed the line into harassment and intimidation.
She says that health officials and health-care workers deserve a level of respect after working through the pandemic in strenuous conditions in an effort to keep residents healthy and safe.
“They deserve nothing short of our full appreciation and respect,” says Collins in the statement. “These disquieting acts of aggression must not be tolerated.”
With files from the Canadian Press