Another protest rally against the idea of vaccine mandates and vaccine passports is to be held in Sudbury this afternoon. One of the groups expected to be involved is the Canadian Frontline Nurses, who have organized a cross-Canada protest for Sept. 13 for 2 p.m. as part of the National Health Freedom Movement (NHFM).
Posters for the event urge Canadians to “Stand together again for informed consent and medical freedom.”
Similar protests are expected to be held in Toronto, London, Barrie and Ottawa, as well as in other major cities across Canada.
The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) has already expressed concern about the protest and the fact that other protests held earlier this month have resulted in harassment toward patients and other health-care workers seeking access to health-care venues.
"The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) is saddened and deeply disappointed that additional anti-vaccination protests are planned outside Ontario hospitals this week. We strongly urge those exercising their right to freedom of expression to do so peacefully, and in a manner that is respectful to the patients at those hospitals for care and the health care personnel working and performing their duties," said a statement from the OHA.
In Sudbury, protesters are not allowed on hospital property, meaning that protesters are expected to be confined mainly to the sidewalks of Paris Street. This also applies for the Public Health Sudbury & Districts building, located adjacent to the hospital property.
Also, Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) will be on the scene.
“Our health care heroes have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep us all safe and healthy,” said GSPS corporate communications co-ordinator Kaitlyn Dunn.
“We acknowledge the right to peaceful protest; however, any disruptions to hospital operations/patient care will not be tolerated. Police will be on scene to ensure public safety,” she added.
Along with the concern expressed about the protest by the OHA, the Ontario Medical Association(OMA) and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) have issued a joint statement about the importance of having hospitals and health-care facilities designated as safe spaces where people can go without being harassed by protesters.
In addition to that, one of Ontario's largest public sector unions — the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) — is also speaking out against the protest. OPSEU/SEFPO has issued a statement condemning the protests.
"Front-line health care workers, patients and their families should not have to run a gauntlet of angry protesters just to go to work or get the health care they need," said union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "These are innocent bystanders who don't make policy decisions. We owe hospital frontline workers our respect and gratitude for risking their lives to take care of us in the last 18 months, not angry protests. And patients in need of care should not have to put up with this nonsense.
"I personally support vaccination. While I support the right to protest, this activity and its intended target is unacceptable. Full stop. If we are to escape the nightmare of this pandemic now is the time to come together," said Thomas.
Eduardo Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO first vice-president/treasurer, said in a news release the protest organizers are misguided if they think that targeting hospital patients and workers is going to win them any support.
"We're talking about some of the most vulnerable patients in the province, and some of the most courageous and heroic workers you'll ever meet: they don't deserve to get caught in the middle of a fight they have nothing to do with," said Almeida.
Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com, covering health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible with funding from the federal government.