Wednesday September 1, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
The overuse of violent tactics in protests in recent weeks during the election campaign seems to have spilled over into a health-care-related protest today in Victoria.
Undoubtedly the COVID pandemic has put pressures and stresses on everyone. And while both the Premier of BC and the president of Island Health support people’s right to protest, the have both stated their rejection of the violence and abuse toward health-care workers today outside hospitals in Vancouver, Kelowna, Prince George and Victoria.
What seems most puzzling is that health-care workers would be protesting the vaccines that are proving to save people’s lives. As well, it appears that many of the active “health freedom protesters” were not themselves members of the health-care profession — some appeared to be organized youth activists and there were signs related to the federal election candidates as well.
Chanting in the crowd (heard in videos and TV news coverage, posted online) included “lock her up”, presumably against Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry who leads the team that is responsible for keeping British Columbians safe. She noted yesterday that the pandemic — now 20 months in — has been wearing on everyone.
Yesterday Dr Henry also noted, finally, that the pandemic has been hardest on youth and young adults, whose education, careers, family life and social mobility have been seriously challenged during this pandemic. She finally proactively outlined how youth have been left til last in the BC Immunization Plan rollout which favoured prevention of death among the elderly (more specifically, death in long-term care, which probably comes with legal ramifications).
Civil Claim in BC Supreme Court:
Indeed, on August 17, 2021 (Court File VLC-S-S-217586) there was a civil claim filed in the Supreme Court of BC — against the federal and BC governments — by Action4Canada and the Constitutional Rights Centre.
The claim was filed on behalf of 18 plaintiffs against a range of defendants including the Queen, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tam, BC Premier John Horgan, B CProvincial Health Officer Dr Henry, BC Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix, BC Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, the Vancouver Island Health Authority, and others, regarding damages they feel they have incurred due to the province’s and public health’s handling of the COVID pandemic.
Tightening of protocols:
Lately there has been a tightening of COVID protocols for everyone (including wearing masks in all indoor spaces), but most critically (related to today’ protest) is the mandatory requirement for COVID vaccination for all health-care workers (including in long-term care) as well as a Proof of Vaccination card required of all British Columbians for gaining access to various public spaces.
Again, it’s puzzling, that people charged with caring for others would choose to put others at risk by themselves not being vaccinated.
What was most upsetting in the video and audio of today’s protests was the sheer number of protesters (easily thousands of people in downtown Vancouver along Cambie Street and near Vancouver General Hospital), the anger with which they behaved, and the spillover of participants beyond actual health-care workers themselves.
This is a disturbing show of significant social unrest, which is always an indication of a need for some sort of statement or change from leadership. This should not come as a surprise given the disenfranchisement that young adults were allowed to suffer, in a cumulative way, over the course of the pandemic in BC.
PREMIER JOHN HORGAN:
“Health-care workers have been true heroes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, working long hours in difficult conditions to care for us, our loved ones and to keep our communities safe.
“While everyone has the right to peaceful protest, the targeting and harassment of health-care workers at health-care facilities today is completely unacceptable. We stand by our health-care workers and support them fully.
“The intent of every COVID-19 guideline and restriction that we’ve put in place since the beginning of the pandemic is to keep people healthy. That remains our number-one priority and we will take the steps we need to, to save lives and keep people safe as the vast majority of British Columbians expect.”
ISLAND HEALTH PRESIDENT & CEO KATHY MACNEIL:
“I am proud my country supports the democratic right to peaceful protest. However, some of today’s protests disrupted safe access to health care facilities.
Members of Island Health care teams were verbally abused as they came to and left work during these protests, and in at least one case a health-care team member was physically assaulted.
What happened to our health-care teams today is not acceptable to me nor to the people and communities they serve. Our health-care teams deserve respect and support, no matter what personal beliefs we hold.
To everyone who supports our amazing health-care workers, and especially for your support today, thank you. It means the world to us at Island Health.”
Parents want letters if COVID exposure in their child’s school (August 31, 2021)
‘Expect more cases’ comes with get-vaccinated plea from PHO & Dix (August 31, 2021)
COVID Island Health: 587 active cases, 2 more deaths (August 30, 2021)
Sunset Lodge COVID outbreak in Victoria now 24 cases (August 30, 2021)
Proof of COVID vaccination starts Sept 13 (August 23, 2021)