In recent days, crowds of protesters opposing closures, vaccination warrants and vaccination passports have descended on hospitals.
These demonstrations have often become confrontational.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) say that doctors, nurses and other front-line staff are harassed and intimidated by angry protesters.
Groups say some protesters are even blocking ambulances and preventing people from accessing medical services.
The OHA called the protests “deeply disturbing.”
“It’s a bitter irony that if any of these anti-vaccine protesters got sick or seriously ill from COVID, it would be the hospitals and frontline workers they would turn to for care,” reads -on in a statement from OHA President Anthony Dale.
We are disheartened by the anti-vaccine rallies that have taken place outside hospitals this week. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 helps keep us and those around us safe, including our most vulnerable in hospitals as well as school-aged children. https://t.co/g6yuvuLlG8 pic.twitter.com/bbOMTRxTeN
– Have. Hospital Assoc. (@OntHospitalAssn) September 3, 2021
“We faced uncertainty, put ourselves at risk, and worked extended hours, weeks and months, all to support our patients and the public we serve,” read a joint statement from AMC and OMA. “We did not sign up for intimidation, attacks and violence, from those who do not subscribe to science or health advice. “
Although polls suggest broad support for vaccines and other measures to combat the rising number of cases, groups say a voice minority has made life more difficult for healthcare professionals.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said healthcare workers deserve “gratitude” rather than “harassment”.
Nurses, doctors and health care workers have protected us all.
They sacrificed time with their families.
They took risks to be there for the sick and the dying.
They deserve our gratitude. No harassment. https://t.co/vwluzJ4UpO
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) September 2, 2021
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole denounced the protests as “totally unacceptable”.
The harassment and intimidation of our brave healthcare workers is totally unacceptable. We must treat everyone with respect and dignity. It must stop now. https://t.co/2JxVuEhSFw
– Erin O’Toole (@erinotoole) September 3, 2021
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has faced similar protests during several campaign stops.
Ontario joined Manitoba, British Columbia and Quebec in announcing a vaccine passport system earlier this week.