Victoria health care workers targeted by anti-vaccine flyers, protesters

Victoria health care workers targeted by anti-vaccine flyers, protesters

Staff at Royal Jubilee Hospital returned to their cars Tuesday night to see flyers called “Pandemic Papers” had been placed on their vehicles.

The flyer, which features pediatric misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, was placed on dozens of cars in the hospital’s parking lot.

Island Health health care assistant Kodi Chase said he confronted the man distributing the anti-vaccine flyers in the staff parking lot.

“I was walking across the south parking lot. And I saw this guy walking in and out of the vehicles, I thought that was really suspicious. So what I did is I went and looked at one of the vehicles he was nearby and I saw this newspaper,” he told CHEK News Wednesday.

In a video, Chase can be heard telling the man they don’t want the flyers, and to leave the property or he’ll call security.

The man did leave, but Chase says it’s hard to believe his colleagues are still under attack.

“I think of my co-workers that are working in the COVID unit that are having to deal with COVID-positive patients all the time. And then to finish your shift, and then to see the garbage on their vehicles? I thought that was really, really frustrating.”

Health Canada says the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children, and the vaccines were tested in clinical trials.

And it’s not the only recent incident of health care workers facing harassment.

BCGEU President Stephanie Smith says one worker was assaulted during anti-vaccine mandate protests over the weekend.

“My understanding is that a health care worker providing critical services to a very vulnerable person in a community was assaulted by an anti-vaxxer while doing performance of their job,” she said.

Island Health, in a statement to CHEK News, confirms they are aware of one of their employees being verbally accosted on the weekend.

“The care provider was driving an Island Health fleet vehicle which displays our logo on the doors. Multiple protesters were yelling obscenities, and protest vehicles around the Island Health car made it difficult for the care provider to get through,” Island Health says in a statement.

“Island Health acknowledges people’s right to express their opinions when they disagree with government policy, however, infringing the rights of others – including health-care workers fulfilling their duties, and patients, clients, and residents receiving care – is not acceptable. The provision of health services is not political.”

Following this incident, Island Health says they are reviewing their service delivery protocols, including having care providers use vehicles without logos in certain situations, travel together when possible, and requesting Victoria Police escorts if they feel unsafe.

Victoria Police confirmed they received a call from a health-care worker in James Bay during the protests at the Legislature.

Smith said the worker was followed and verbally harassed.

“I was disgusted. We have gone from celebrating healthcare heroes to telling them that they can’t wear their uniforms,” she said.

The B.C. government recently introduced an act preventing COVID-19 protests in protected areas, including hospitals.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said the Royal Jubilee Hospital incident involving the flyers may violate legislation prohibiting harassment of health-care workers.

“The police take these things seriously. And they follow up and it may well lead to to find or, you know, fines or criminal penalties if the situation warrants.”

Chase says he knows the harassment represents a minority, as the majority of British Columbians support health-care workers.

“I know that I won’t let this incident change out for me or for my for my co workers.”

WATCH: Rob Shaw: B.C. introduces new ‘bubble zones’ to protect hospitals and schools from anti-vaccination protests

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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