Protestors Target B.C. Hospitals Over “Health Freedom”

Dr. Matthew Chow, the President at Doctors of B.C. told reporters it was a very difficult day for healthcare staff as the was a large demonstration for “health freedom” at Vancouver General Hospitals and City Hall on Wednesday.

Reacting to the demonstration, the head of Doctors of BC says, it was “distressing” and “beyond the pale” for health workers.

“There is distress — a feeling that this was just beyond the pale in terms of the nature of the protests and where they happened,” he said.

Police estimated about 5,000 protesters at the event’s peak, with the crowd voicing opposition to COVID-19 protocols and vaccine mandates and causing traffic disruptions, including forcing ambulances to slow down. Similar protests occurred at hospitals around the province and across the country.

Workers inside the hospitals said they could hear crowds chanting “lock her up” in reference to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“It makes me very sad that people would do that to others, watching the ambulance try to get through made me very upset and sad. Taking it out on me is something I have been living with as some of you know for some time,” Dr. Henry said when asked about the incident Thursday.

“What upsets me is the amount of anger and vitriol that has been directed at others in public health and my team and my staff, and that’s inexcusable and very upsetting.”

Dr. Chow said he is stunned this would happen in Canada.

“People were spat at, cursed at, yelled at, women had misogynist comments directed at them, people were being yelled at through megaphones,” he said. “It just compounded the sense of fatigue and burnout people have been having.”

He added it was unfortunately just an example of what health workers have been dealing with since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Our healthcare workers have been heroes throughout the pandemic,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday morning.

“They’ve been extraordinary throughout the pandemic, including right now, treating people, the majority of whom are unvaccinated from COVID-19 right now.

Mr. Dix said people have the right to express their views, but to do these outside hospitals is irresponsible to patients and staff.

On the same day of the protests, B.C.’s fourth wave of the pandemic showed no signs of slowing down, as the province announced another 785 new cases and two deaths.

It brought the seven-day average for new cases to 697, the highest it has been in nearly four months.

Health officials said 199 people were hospitalized with the virus, up 12 overnight and nearly double the 107 people in hospital two weeks ago. Of them, 112 people were in critical or intensive care.

From Aug. 24 to 30, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 80 percent of COVID-19 cases, the province said. From Aug. 17 to 30, they accounted for 83.4 percent of hospitalizations.

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