Hospitals across the country are preparing for a day of protest on Monday with demonstrations against pandemic protocols expected to hamper access to healthcare facilities including one in downtown Toronto.
The group Canadian Frontline Nurses is planning what it calls a silent protest against mandates in all 10 provinces, targeting five hospitals in Toronto, London, Barrie, Ottawa and Sudbury.
“We will gather at Toronto General Hospital creating a wall memorial in tribute for those affected, weaving out stories into the fence,” reads a post on social media. It asks demonstrators to keep any signs away from the vaccine narrative, focusing instead on pro-choice and against mandates.
Ahead of an anti-mandate demonstration outside Toronto General Hospital this aft (coordinated with similar events at hospitals across Canada), a group of first responders against vaccine mandates stages a silent protest in front of Queen’s Park. @680NEWS pic.twitter.com/gM90F9mNLc
— Mark Douglas (@Douglas680NEWS) September 13, 2021
After vaccine passports were announced in several provinces, similar protests held across the country blocked access to ambulances and other medical services. That prompted the Ontario and Canadian medical associations to release a joint statement calling the demonstrations “wrong and unacceptable.”
“The health-care workers who have worked tirelessly for months on end are being bullied and harassed for doing their jobs. This is wrong and unacceptable – full stop,” read a portion of the statement.
The Ontario Hospital Association called the demonstrations “truly disheartening,” noting the irony that should any of these protesters get sick or seriously ill from COVID, “it will be hospitals and frontline workers that they turn to for care, perhaps even to save their life.”
Toronto ICU physician Dr. Michael Warner says while people are entitled to make their voices heard, his hope is that the authorities will not tolerate any form of harassment.
“If you have something to say, tell your elected officials, go to the legislature. Use whatever other means are necessary to make your voice heard. But leave the hospital alone, leave the patients alone, and let the healthcare workers continue to do their work unencumbered,” he says in a tweet.
Hospitals are not the place for anti-vaccination protests. pic.twitter.com/ymeYiustTH
— Michael Warner (@drmwarner) September 11, 2021
Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the protests “selfish, cowardly and reckless.” However, he stopped short of announcing any measures to try and stop them.
“Our health care workers have sacrificed so much to keep us all safe during this pandemic,” he said in a tweet. “They don’t deserve this kind of treatment — not now, not ever. Leave our health care workers alone.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory also condemned the protests.
“You are doing nothing to help people, to protect the progress we have made reopening our city, or make sure we bring this pandemic to an end,” he said.
He added that he supported the police “taking whatever action is necessary to protect the lives of innocent people seeking medical care and all of our healthcare heroes.”
“We have long passed the time when we can have this tyranny of a few interfere with access to healthcare during a pandemic,” he said.
Speaking on Monday, Tory said the city plans on sharing educational resources to help encourage people to get vaccinated.
“We cannot allow a situation to occur where a small number of people have an opinion. I respect that they have an opinion. I respect the fact that they have a choice to get vaccinated or not. They have that choice,” the Mayor said.
“What they don’t have a choice to do, is then put the health of the rest of the people who have been vaccinated at risk. They don’t have a right to do that. There are times where people’s rights to make choices come up against the rights of other people… I am optimistic if we keep working on this in a cooperative matter, we will convince more people to get vaccinated.”
A spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service said they’re aware of the planned protest tomorrow.
“As with all protests and demonstrations, we will continue to monitor the situation and officers will respond, where appropriate,” said Const. Alex Li
The Ontario Medical Association also weighed in, saying in a news release they’re “saddened and deeply disappointed that additional anti-vaccination protests are planned outside hospitals this week.”
“We strongly urge those exercising their right to freedom of expression to do so peacefully & in a manner that is respectful,” they said.