A small group was showing support for health care workers at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, while other facilities across Canada were dealing with protests.
Dr. Anne Irwin, a longtime anthropologist, and two others were holding signs throughout Monday in support of those working in the Red Deer facility, as well as the patients.
“We’ve seen that health care workers have been abandoned by the UCP government and subjected to horrific abuse,” Irwin said.
Protests were planned at hospitals across Canada, including in Calgary and Edmonton on Monday.
An organization calling itself Canadian Frontline Nurses posted notices of “silent vigils” expected to take place in all 10 provinces, saying they’re meant to critique public health measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Organizers said they want to take a stand against what they call “tyrannical measures and government overreach,” adding that they are not encouraging nurses to walk out on their shifts or abandon patients.
Irwin said protests like these “disgust” her.
“There are places you can protest – like an MLA’s office, the legislature or even city hall. But the hospital is not a place to protest, even silently. Then there’s the abuse – people have been targeting health care workers, and … it’s shameful and frustrating,” she said.
In a statement Monday, the United Nurses of Alberta said it is “demoralizing” for health care workers to see people who oppose vaccination efforts interfere with access to health care facilities.
“Hospitals across Canada, including two in Alberta, are bracing for protests today by groups opposed to COVID-19 vaccinations and pandemic protocols,” the statement said.
“Based on recent protests by these groups, today’s events are expected to hamper access to health care facilities and intimidate health care workers, patients and families using the facilities. While UNA recognizes the right of citizens to let their views be publicly known, now is not the time for large gatherings at which COVID-19 infections can spread.”
On Monday, Premier Jason Kenney said protests at Calgary and Edmonton hospitals must not “obstruct the important operations of our hospitals,” including the arrival and departure of emergency vehicles and workers.
”Blocking an ambulance is most definitely not peaceful protest,” Kenney said in a statement.
“And while Canadians are entitled to peaceful protest, one can still question the appalling judgment of those protesting across the country today. It is outrageous that a small minority feel it’s appropriate to protest at hospitals during the pandemic while our health-care workers continue to tirelessly battle the global menace of COVID-19.”
—With files from The Canadian Press