On Monday, Canadian healthcare workers and patients faced a number of anti-vaxxer protesters outside hospitals, including University Health Network's Toronto General Hospital.
— Sean_Cowan (@seancowantv) September 13, 2021
— Caryn Lieberman (@caryn_lieberman) September 13, 2021
— Marianne Dimain (@MDimainGlobal) September 13, 2021
While the protests took place, Justin Trudeau announced that if the Liberals are re-elected, the government would move forward with legislation to make it a criminal offence to obstruct access to any health services locations, including hospitals, and also make it a criminal offence to "intimidate or threaten any healthcare professional carrying out their professional duties."
I am deeply disturbed by anti-vaxxer gatherings outside of hospitals and health care sites in the last few weeks. These people are intimidating our health care heroes and putting Canadians seeking health services at risk.Justin Trudeau, Leader of Liberal party of Canada
"I will not accept this. That’s why we’re going to take strong action to ensure everyone has access to the care they need and keep our front-line health care workers safe. Only our Liberal team will finish this fight against COVID-19 and keep our communities safe and healthy."
There is no space at all for protests that are threatening healthcare workers and patients.
Healthcare workers were there for us – now, it's our turn to be there for them.
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) September 13, 2021
Other federal party leaders also commented on the protests.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who previous announced a plan to make it a Criminal Code offence to harass or block someone from accessing healthcare, or assault healthcare workers, condemned the protests on Monday.
"There is no space at all for protests that are threatening healthcare workers and patients. It's wrong," a statement from Singh reads. "That's not the place to protest."
"We would make it an aggravating element of a sentence if someone was in any way threatening a healthcare worker, threatening patients, getting in the way of their ability to access care. That’s 100 per cent not on."
No one should be permitted to obstruct access to a hospital. If necessary, law enforcement should be deployed to prevent this.
— Erin O'Toole (@erinotoole) September 13, 2021
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole also joined the conversation, saying that "no one should be permitted to obstruct access to a hospital."
VIDEO: I asked Mayor @JohnTory why police and city staff will forcefully move people out of homeless encampments but aren’t using the same tactics on anti-vax protestors. He called the comparison “unfair.” pic.twitter.com/AE1eFShNRm
— David Rider (@dmrider) September 13, 2021
On Monday, Mayors and Chairs from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area released a statement on the hospital protests.
"Throughout the pandemic, we have all relied on our frontline healthcare heroes to save lives and help people," the statement reads. "People go to hospitals because they need medical help - they also don't deserve to be harassed or intimidated by protests.
"The Mayors and Chairs strongly condemn protests intentionally targeting hospitals and support our enforcement officials in taking any action they deem necessary to protect our hospitals and keeping patients and healthcare workers safe."
Speaking to reporters, Toronto Mayor John Tory responded to a question about why police and city staff are able to remove encampments at parks but it's seemingly more difficult to remove anti-vaxxers in front of local hospitals. Tory called that an "unfair comparison."
"The police understand that they have the discretion and the responsibility to enforce the law and to decide where the line is between harassment and peaceful protest," the Toronto Mayor said.
Several Canadians, including healthcare workers, have taken to social media to respond to the protests.
i just had a nurse come up to me from another hospital bringing her elder parent in and she was exasperated/in tears coming thru the crowd: “we have to keep people safe. my whole family got vaccinated — the teens to protect their grandparents. And me to protect everyone in here.”
— Andrew Baback Boozary MD (@drandrewb) September 13, 2021
This counter protestor just arrived at Toronto General Hospital holding a sign that on one side reads “I demand my right to be ignorant & selfish” the other side reads “I know more than the scientists” pic.twitter.com/13WANeK4Rx
— Adrian Ghobrial (@CityAdrian) September 13, 2021
One ER doctor on hospital row in Toronto with a sign “Protect hospitals.” He came before his shift. “This is sacred ground behind me,” he said. Let them protest, he added, but not here. @globalnewsto pic.twitter.com/txgcsHE7iV
— Caryn Lieberman (@caryn_lieberman) September 13, 2021
To our healthcare workers & hospital staff: I see you. Your efforts to help protect our community throughout this pandemic have been incredible.
These protests are not a reflection of your work.
Your work is important, valued & essential to keeping our community healthy & safe.
— Dr. Vera Etches (@VeraEtches) September 13, 2021
Yes, you have the right to protest. But if your protest leads to the obstruction of care for those who are sick or the abuse of health workers who care for the sick, then you've more than lost your way...Please. Be respectful of hospitals. They are an oasis of care & compassion.
— Naheed Dosani (@NaheedD) September 13, 2021
Never thought we'd reach the "hospitals are building barricades" stage of the pandemic, but here we are as those against vaccines prepare to protest outside hospitals.
What a time to be alive.
— Ahmed Ali (@MrAhmednurAli) September 13, 2021
Anti-vaxxers are now threatening to bring guns to protests outside hospitals..."to get inside & show the world that COVID is fake."
So will the Police, who destroyed encampments...protect health workers & sick patients, from domestic terrorism today? pic.twitter.com/2q9eErcDSt
— Dr. Amit Arya (@AmitAryaMD) September 13, 2021
If you protest COVID I can assume you’re uneducated and hate people. If you protest outside of a hospital I know for a fact you’re a garbage human being
— matsleafs (@matsleafs) September 13, 2021
Where are all the pots and pans bangers? Hospitals and Healthcare professionals could really use your actual support now.https://t.co/0QfAT1Vdr3
— Alan Smithee, Antifa Soup Bombardier (@TDotOpenLetter) September 13, 2021
I'll admit that when this all started almost two years ago, I didn't think we'd end up at "people protesting hospitals during a pandemic" https://t.co/0ctw2hbiwV
— Vax City (@Rick_City) September 13, 2021
People who are protesting in front of hospitals really have no sense of idea what kind of damage they are doing to patients and nurses.
— Juan Dominguez (@1caDom) September 13, 2021