anti vaccine passport protest toronto

Calls mount for Ontario government to ban anti-vaccine protests near hospitals

Unifor, Canada's largest union in the private sector, is calling on the Ontario government to ban anti-vaccine protests near hospitals, schools, daycares, COVID-19 immunization clinics and testing centres following numerous demonstrations outside such locations in recent weeks.

Unifor put out a statement Friday urging the province to enact the legislation in an effort to "protect COVID heroes" from anti-vaccine protests.

"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 in the news release.

"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."

Protests against Ontario's mandatory vaccine passport have broken out in front of businesses and, most notably, hospitals on University Avenue in recent weeks, where unvaccinated, unmasked protestors have accosted and harassed passersby and prevented some patients from being able to safely enter the buildings for appointments.

The protests have been particularly disheartening and insulting to exhausted healthcare workers who've been working tirelessly to save lives throughout the pandemic. 

"The toll that the pandemic has had on the mental health of frontline workers is unimaginable," said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario regional director of Unifor, in the statement. 

"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."

The Quebec government passed a law to prevent such demonstrations in the province last week, and it forbids all protests related to the pandemic within 50 metres of any hospitals, schools, daycares and COVID-19 immunization and testing clinics.

Those who hold or organize demonstrations in these safe zones despite the law could face fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000, and any protester who intimidates or threatens people entering or leaving any of these establishments may receive penalties as high as $12,000.

Unifor is calling for a similar measure to be enacted in Ontario in an effort to protect tired healthcare workers from the wrath of anti-vaxxers.

"Anti-vaccine protests not only allow the possible spread of the virus but allows protesters to continue spreading hate and division amongst us all," said Dias. 

"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."

Lead photo by

Briana-Lynn Brieiro

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