On Monday, Toronto frontline workers and first responders protested against a vaccine mandate, holding a silent rally outside Queen’s Park.
Demonstrators linked arms for the last few minutes of their event. They joined a chorus of separate anti-vaccination demonstrations provincewide. Though considered a “silent protest,” some frontline workers could be heard chanting “freedom.”
Ahead of an anti-mandate demonstration outside Toronto General Hospital this aft (coordinated with similar events at hospitals across Canada), a group of first responders against vaccine mandates stages a silent protest in front of Queen’s Park. @680NEWS pic.twitter.com/gM90F9mNLc
— Mark Douglas (@Douglas680NEWS) September 13, 2021
Other city-based rallies were held outside Toronto General Hospital, where one staff member staked a spot on the front lawn to counter-protest, saying such an event should never happen at a hospital.
“These protests should not be happening here,” ER Doctor Raghu Venugopal told 680 NEWS. “All of the people that work behind me in this hospital do not pass laws. Laws are passed at Queen’s Park. Not at this hospital.”
“Healthcare workers should be allowed to do their work without disturbance, treated with dignity, and treated with respect. That is how we treat the population of this city. We treat all of our patients, regardless of vaccine status, with dignity, compassion and respect, and we ask the same of those around us,” he added.
One sign read “invest in healthcare, not fear and division” and “no division means no vax pass.” Another protestor held a sign that said forcing children to wear masks is child abuse.
First responders against a vaccine mandate are holding a “silent protest” at Queens Park today. However, many in the crowd are chanting “Freedom.” For context this is down the road from Toronto General Hospital where an anti-vax protest is scheduled to take place in an hour. pic.twitter.com/oKF1wr6qqW
— Adrian Ghobrial (@CityAdrian) September 13, 2021
One Toronto hospital says protests against pandemic measures particularly dishearten staff who have cared for dying COVID-19 patients.
The University Health Network runs the Toronto General Hospital, one of the locations where demonstrations are currently being held.
Some high-ranking Ontario politicians and prominent healthcare organizations have issued warnings ahead of the protests, expected to occur at hospitals across Canada.
An organization calling itself Canadian Frontline Nurses posted notices of “silent vigils” expected to take place in all ten provinces, saying they’re meant to critique public health measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
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As of today, if you work for the City of Toronto, you have to disclose if you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. The mandatory vaccination policy goes into effect for Toronto Police today. The TTC’s starts the following Monday.
Mayor John Tory says the uptake has been impressive so far, with 97 per cent being either fully or partially vaccinated.
He isn’t saying yet whether staff who refuse will lose their jobs.
“We have said very clearly no options are off the table,” Tory said.
“You hope, both in the case of the Police and all of the other union parties in the city and the city itself, that it isn’t necessary to go down that road and that people will, after a period of reflection, persuasion, maybe some reassurance by the rest of us that have been vaccinated, and the majority, that they will get vaccinated.”
Premier Doug Ford and Mayor Tory condemned the protests scheduled to take place outside hospitals today.
Tory says police are aware of the protest plans and will ensure no healthcare workers are harmed, and all patients can access the hospital.