Wide-spread condemnation against Monday’s hospital protests

London Health Sciences Centre - Victoria Hospital. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Professional associations representing doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers are strong in their condemnation against a series of protests and silent vigils planned for Monday outside hospitals across Canada.

The group, Canadian Frontline Nurses, is planning events in ten provinces. In Ontario, events are planned outside hospitals in London, Toronto, Sudbury, Barrie, and Ottawa.

Those who have attended past protests say they were joined by healthcare workers. The group was founded by five nurses. On the group’s webpage, the five are only identified by their first name. Their places of work are not listed. One, identified only as “Kristin”, appears to be Kristin Nagle, who was fired from her job in the neonatal intensive care unit at the London Health Sciences Centre after organizing an anti-lockdown rally a year ago.

In recent weeks, some protests have blocked access to hospitals, delaying patients attending appointments and staff, while some workers said they were harassed.

The protests led the Ontario Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association to issue a statement about the bullying of healthcare workers.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Smokey Thomas said the protests have no place in front of healthcare facilities.

“Front-line health care workers, patients and their families should not have to run a gauntlet of angry protesters just to go to work or get the health care they need,” he said. “I truly hope better judgement will prevail and that protesters abandon this ill-conceived and ill-received strategy.”

First Vice-President Eduardo Almeida called the protesters “misguided” if they believe targeting hospitals would win them support.

“We’re talking about some of the most vulnerable patients in the province,” he said. “They don’t deserve to get caught in the middle of a fight they have nothing to do with.”

The Ontario Medical Association and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario also condemn the protests, saying healthcare workers “cannot and must not be distracted, or worse, discouraged by protests at the doorstep of their workplaces.”

“Most people who go to hospitals go there because they have to. They are sick. They need urgent, emergency or lifesaving are,” read a joint statement. “They are having cancer treatment, surgeries, or diagnostic tests. Some are getting ready to give birth, while many others are being treated for COVID-19. These are places where professionals are using the latest evidence and science to carry out the work they were educated to do and eager to deliver.”

The OMA and RNAO said they respect the right to protest but insist they “must not be held anywhere where they block entry and exit to healthcare facilities” and “charges must be pressed against anyone engaging in harassment, aggression or hate speech.”

Premier Doug Ford, again, weighed in the protests calling them, “selfish, cowardly, and reckless.”

“Our healthcare workers have sacrificed so much to keep us all safe during this pandemic,” he tweeted. “They don’t deserve this kind of treatment — not now, not ever.”

London Mayor Ed Holder called the protesters an “anti-vaxx mob” and said he’s been assured by the London Police Service patients and staff will be protected.

The protest in London is expected to start at 2 p.m. at the corner of Wellington Road and Commissioners Road.