Protest outside HSC draws political criticism

Hospital access blocked for some patients, staff


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Disappointment rang out from both sides of the political aisle Thursday, in response to an aggressive rally a day earlier outside Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/09/2021 (636 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Disappointment rang out from both sides of the political aisle Thursday, in response to an aggressive rally a day earlier outside Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.

Protesters decried vaccine mandates and passports, but often and repeatedly devolved into shouting conspiracy theories and general disinformation.

Hospital staff and patients complained of having difficulty accessing the building or being harassed for wearing masks, said a spokesperson for Shared Health.

JESSICA LEE/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Hundreds gathered outside the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg on Wednesday, blocking off parts of Sherbrook Street and William Avenue to protest against vaccines, vaccine passports and COVID restrictions.

“​​We know of some patients who opted to cancel their appointments rather than approach the protesters standing near our entrances,” said the spokesperson, calling the demonstration “profoundly disrespectful.”

Health Minister Audrey Gordon addressed the situation during a morning news conference.

“For our health-care workers to possibly be barred from going to work or to provide services from Manitobans is deeply disheartening. I’m disappointed,” she said.

Some trying to access the building were doing so to receive care or possibly to visit a family member who’s ill, the minister said.

“Maybe they are in palliative care wards, maybe they were visiting a child that’s at the hospital receiving surgery or treatment. So kindness is paramount,” Gordon said.

“I think there’s a space and time to share your concerns, and we want to always remember to do that in a respectful way that respects individuals rights to access care and rights to their views about the public health orders, as well… They have a right to speak out but they don’t have a right to block an individual from accessing care at a hospital facility.”

In a rare moment of agreement between the major political parties, NDP health-care critic Uzoma Asagwara weighed in with similar remarks about Wednesday’s demonstration.

“It is incredibly disappointing that people made the decision to protest outside of a hospital, which has health-care workers working around the clock, putting in overtime, not seeing their families, putting their health at risk on a daily basis to provide care to Manitobans,” said Asagwara.

“It is incredibly disrespectful that those folks made the decision to do that in that way.”

Doctors Manitoba president Dr. Kristjan Thompson urged any such protesters to direct their efforts more appropriately in the future.

“While doctors fully support Manitobans’ right to protest, we are extremely concerned any time a protest interferes with patient care,” he said in an email.

“Protests about government policy decisions are best held at the legislature, where those decisions are made, not at a medical facility offering patient care.”

Protesters gathered at other Canadian hospitals Wednesday — notably, in several cities in British Columbia, where one health authority reported the assault of a health-care worker.

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