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Canadian health-care workers pen open letter as convoy protests continue

“We, the undersigned physicians, nurses, healthcare workers, and public health scholars across the country, will NOT hide out of fear of violence from hate-fueled convoys,” the letter reads.

As so called “freedom convoys” and anti-vaccine protests continue across the country, a doctor in Ottawa is urging other health-care workers to take a stand against demonstrations.

Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth has started an open letter for health-care workers to sign, vowing to not let disinformation, violence, and threats undermine science and patient care.

“We, the undersigned physicians, nurses, healthcare workers, and public health scholars across the country, will NOT hide out of fear of violence from hate-fueled convoys,” the letter reads.

Kaplan-Myrth says she hopes this letter serves as a message to the public and protesters, that health-care workers and those seeking medical care will not tolerate hate on Canadian streets.

“I will not cower to people who walk down the streets with swastikas or confederate flags. I will not cower to people who bully my LGBTQ community. I will not cower to people who are racist and sexist,” she said.

Kaplan-Myrth says the original letter was shared with only a few dozen health-care workers, but has now been opened to the public. She says seeing the number of signatures has offered some hope in what has felt like a very dark time.

“I also do feel a sense of relief with this open letter that there is a community of caring of nurses and doctors and an outpouring of support.”

Health-care workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic for more than two years. Warnings were issued over the weekend to several hospitals across the country about possible harassment connected to the anti-vaccine mandate demonstrations.

“It’s exhaustion, it’s feeling demoralized because we have worked so hard to provide care and then we are faced with what are really – bullies – bullies in so many different arenas,” she said.

“We are experiencing a sense of grief for our patients who have gotten sick, we are experiencing grief for our colleagues who have burnt out. I am scared to return to my office on Monday. I am watching my office carefully to make sure it is secure. I am worried about my staff and my patients. I am worried for my family.”

She says many other doctors and health-care workers had protesters outside their own homes Saturday.

“The letter is our plea to the public and to our leaders to please take seriously the threat to all of our safety and to ensure that we can keep doing the work that we need to do,” she said.

Kaplan-Myrth says they wanted to organize a counter-protest led by health-care workers, but were encouraged by officials and police to stay away and not to confront the anti-vaccine demonstrations.

She adds that Bill C-3 (an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code) was passed to help protect medical workers and patients and she thinks police need to do a better job of enforcing it.

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