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Demonstrations planned outside Canadian hospitals on Monday (update)

The group Canadian Frontline Nurses is planning what it calls a silent protest against mandates in all 10 provinces, including Nova Scotia
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An ambulance passes through a crowd of people protesting COVID-19 vaccine passports and mandatory vaccinations for health-care workers, in Vancouver on Sept. 1, 2021

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 planned at Halifax's QEII Health Sciences Centre.

The group Canadian Frontline Nurses is preparing what it calls a silent protest against mandates in all 10 provinces.

"This will be a silent vigil to honour those affected by measures put in place over the last year and half," says the group on its website. "Our cries and concerns have been ignored for too long."

Nova Scotia Health says it will have extra security on site and encourages anyone blocked from entering to find security personnel to help them out.

"We expect that anyone attending a protest will allow our patients and families access to care, and our staff and physicians free and clear access to work," it said in a news release early Monday afternoon.
 
"It is disappointing and disheartening to know this may happen given the hard work of health care workers over the last year and a half," it added. "Protesting at hospitals will further contribute to the stress and fatigue of our teams and we respectfully ask that protestors reconsider or choose a different location."

Halifax Regional Police spokesperson John MacLeod said the right to peaceful protest will be respected.

"And we certainly expect, at this point, that those involved will respect others' rights as well, that those facilities that need to be used, there will be no issue with anyone accessing them," he said.

"We will be monitoring it to ensure that everyone's safety, for the public, and both those involved and those that are reaching those facilities, will be respected."

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.



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