September 9, 2021
-City News 1130
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Despite the outrage prompted by last week’s protests against COVID-19 vaccine passports and other measures at Vancouver General Hospital, demonstrators are planning another round.
A protest is set to take place outside the same hospital on Monday, the day B.C.’s vaccine passport system takes effect.
The group behind last week's COVID rally at Vancouver General Hospital has planned another protest *at the hospital* for Monday, despite the outrage + impact to patient care last time. But even potential protestors are feeling uneasy about the location. @NEWS1130 @CityNewsVAN pic.twitter.com/dPvCHpq7DN
— Monika Gul (@MonikaGul) September 9, 2021
It’s part of a series of planned demonstrations in other cities and provinces, though many will not be taking place in front of hospitals this time around.
On Sept. 1, thousands of protesters gathered outside VGH, disturbing hospital patients, staff, and families, and in some cases, disrupting hospital operations.
It appears next week’s protests are being planned by the same group, Canadian Frontline Nurses, which is urging people to stand together “for informed consent & medical freedoms.”
‘Don’t risk people’s lives,’ urges Vancouver mayor
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says these demonstrations just “cannot continue in front of hospitals.”
“When they happened last week, I reviewed the situation thoroughly with Chief Adam Palmer of the Vancouver Police Department, as well as our health authority. I understand that the province is also concerned about this type of action right across British Columbia,” Stewart told NEWS 1130 Thursday.
“We’ve reviewed all our legal options and are going to make sure people can get to health care when they need it and they’re not impeded in any way to get to the hospital.”
One option, Stewart explains, is a legal injunction. He says there are other legal avenues the city can take, but that an injunction would “be the most prudent one at this point.”
“We will be preparing for this. My message, though, would be: Don’t do this. Don’t risk people’s lives for the sake of making a political point,” the mayor pleaded, adding people have a right to protest if they want to, but should do so elsewhere.
“Frontline workers — whether they’re police, or nurses, or doctors, or firefighters — they’re under tremendous strain here, and we don’t need this. We are all fatigued 18 months into a pandemic,” Stewart says.
The Vancouver Police Department has said while they “strongly support people’s rights to peacefully assemble and express their views,” officers “must also balance those rights with public safety.”
“We will monitor this demonstration and have a number of options should public safety be put at risk,” Sgt. Steve Addison said in an email to NEWS 1130.
Previous protests leave front-line health staff, families in tears
Following last week’s protests, many health care workers across B.C. took to social media to share their frustrations, some saying their colleagues broke down in tears.
“I doubt you will accomplish your goal of having a tide of change,” physician Kari Way wrote in a poignant Facebook post. “Personally, I would have picked a spot with more visibility and presence than our usually quiet hospital street, especially since most of us at the hospital are vaccinated. And those that aren’t are admitted fighting for their lives.”
She went on to say, “You have made us feel deeply disrespected.”
In addition to hospital workers, Way and other health care workers say family members of patients who are critically ill were brought to tears, and those grieving loved ones who were hoping to say their peaceful good byes were disrupted.
Many concerning stories have emerged, with even some cancer patients recalling having to walk through crowds of unmasked and, at times, angry people to get to their treatments and appointments.
This all comes as health care workers sound the alarm over rising case numbers, adding additional stress on already-burnt out staff.