As the COVID-19 pandemic is about to enter its third year, a Vancouver Island physician has co-written an open letter to those who have been protesting against healthcare professionals.
The letter begins, “We, the undersigned physicians, nurses, health care workers, and public health scholars across the country, will NOT hide out of fear of violence from hate-fueled convoys.”
Hundreds of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers across Canada have now signed the letter.
It comes as convoys of protestors have taken to streets outside hospitals demanding an end to vaccine mandates.
“I heard from a colleague that at the triage department in Emergency they could not hear the patient that was sitting right in front of them speaking to them and telling them what their symptoms were,” BC Nurses’ Union Presiden Aman Grewal told CHEK News Tuesday.
Dr. Amy Tan says she has received threats against her safety before and after the letter was made public on February 5th.
Tan has been vocal about racial discrimination and hatred directed at healthcare workers.
“I think people don’t understand to what degree healthcare workers across the province and across the country are so demoralized and tapped out,” she said.
Dr. Tan said it was important the letter address the hate now being felt in this country for the first time by many, stating, “We cannot and will not allow misinformation to undermine science, nor will we tolerate groups that are organized around hate to undermine health care policy or services.”
“People are seeing perhaps for the first time that this hate does exist in Canada but I want to be very clear that health care workers will take care of anyone who comes through our doors,” added Tan.
Below is the letter in its entirety:
February 5, 2022
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.
Some of us have grandparents who fled Nazis during the Second World War. Some of us have families that are refugees or migrants to Canada from other wars and violations of human rights. Some of us are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Baptist, Protestant, Catholic, atheist. Some of us identify as transgender, some as non-binary. Some of us are lesbian, gay, bisexual. Some of us are disabled. Some of us are Black, Asian, First Nations, Metis, Inuit.
All of us believe strongly in social justice, equality, respect, and caring for one another in a community.
We cannot and will not allow racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism or any other form of hate or discrimination towards any person facing oppression in Canada, to stop us from doing our work.
We cannot and will not allow disinformation to undermine science, nor will we tolerate groups that are organized around hate to undermine healthcare policy or services.
We will not cower. We will not hide. We will wear our scrubs in public, without fear, knowing that you – Canadians – have our backs.
We will run our vaccine clinics, without fear, knowing that legislation in Canada prevents harassment or intimidation of healthcare workers or patients seeking care. We will go to our hospitals. We will keep providing healthcare. The recent amendment to the Criminal Code, with Bill C-3, must be enforced to support healthcare workers and protect patients.
We will continue to provide quality care to each of you, whether you have followed our medical advice or not, because that is our commitment to you as physicians, nurses & healthcare workers. We will not, however, tolerate any hate directed at us or at any marginalized community. Please treat us with the same respect and compassion that we offer to you.
We are not heroes. We are not villains. We are exhausted, just as you are. We want the pandemic to be over, just as you do. We want our children to be in school, businesses to be open, for life not to be dictated by a virus that is threatening the world. We are doing everything we can to take care of you, to use all the tools that we have – vaccines, better masks, better ventilation in schools, curbing our activities – to get there. But there are still many people in Canada who are vulnerable. They deserve protection. Infants, young children, disabled people, elderly or immunocompromised people, people who work in high-risk jobs. We will not abandon them. Globally, also, we have a responsibility to ensure that safety is not a privilege, but a right for every person. This includes urgently improving access to vaccines globally.
We appeal to the Prime Minister, to each of our Premiers, to the Mayors of all cities, to elected provincial and federal officials, to all community leaders, to all business owners and heads of organizations – and to ALL Canadians – to have our backs. This isn’t about partisan politics. It is about ensuring that we are safe while we care for you. That is all we ask.
Thank you, for everything you’ve done to take care of each other. Please, now, take care of us.