TORONTO — Unifor is calling on the Ontario government to enact legislation to ban anti-vaccine protests near hospitals, schools, daycares and COVID-19 immunization and testing clinics.
“Anti-vaccine protests not only put the health and safety of our members but the entire community at risk,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “These COVID heroes have sacrificed so much for the betterment of society and to have a group of people intimidating them while working is unacceptable. Our COVID heroes deserve better.”
Last Thursday, the Quebec government passed Bill 105 An Act to establish a perimeter around certain places in order to regulate demonstrations in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act forbids all protests related to the pandemic within 50 metres of any hospitals, schools, daycares and COVID-19 immunization and testing clinics.
“The toll that the pandemic has had on the mental health of frontline workers is unimaginable,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “For the Ontario government to remain silent and continue allowing these protests to occur outside of workplaces is a disgrace and kicking our COVID heroes when they’re already dealing with so much.”
Protests outside hospitals across Canada have been widely publicized in recent weeks, putting strain on patients and their families to get through aggressive crowds. Health care workers have faced harassment on their way to work to treat patients.
The Quebec Act states that those who hold or organize demonstrations within 50 metres of certain educational and health institutions could face fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. In addition, it says any protester who intimidates or threatens people entering or leaving schools, daycares, hospitals and designated COVID-19 testing or vaccination centres may receive penalties as high as $12,000.
“Anti-vaccine protests not only allow the possible spread of the virus but allows protesters to continue spreading hate and division amongst us all. This must stop now. I am calling on the Premier to take immediate action to protect our health care workers, educational workers, children, and anyone accessing these services free from hate and intimidation,” said Dias.
The new measures in Quebec will expire after 30 days but provides the government with the right to renew them while the COVID-19 state of emergency order remains in effect.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype, Zoom or Facetime interview, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Hamid Osman at @email or (647)647-448-2823 (cell)