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Intimidation of health worker prompts Island Health to use unmarked cars

Premier says mistreating health workers "just not acceptable"; care provider in marked vehicle was verbally accosted last Saturday during anti-vaccine-mandate demonstration in Victoria
Anti-vaccine mandate protesters in downtown Victoria last Saturday. DARRON STONE, TIMES COLONIST. Feb. 12, 2022

An Island Health care provider in a marked vehicle driving to a patient’s home in James Bay was confronted and verbally accosted Saturday by people protesting pandemic restrictions and vaccine mandates, the health authority confirmed Thursday.

As a result of the confrontation, the health authority has made adjustments to support the safe delivery of patient care including the use of unmarked vehicles in certain situations, health care workers travelling in teams when possible, and requesting Victoria police escorts if they feel unsafe.

On Saturday night, a care provider was driving an Island Health fleet vehicle with logos on the doors when multiple protesters yelled obscenities and protest vehicles came around the Island Health car making it difficult for the care provider to get through.

Asked about the incident, B.C. Premier John Horgan said during a media availability on Thursday that people are generally feeling frustrated, but taking that to another level and yelling at school children for wearing masks or health workers going to their work site — “it’s just not acceptable.”

Last week, anti-mask protesters yelled at masked high-school students in Oliver.

“I think I speak for all B.C.ers — profound regret that there’s that level of stupidity in some of our fellow citizens.”

Horgan said having gone through the public health care system over the past number of months as he had surgery followed by radiation for throat cancer, he saw the look on the faces of health care providers who worked double shifts because there was no one to replace them.

The health authority said it acknowledges people’s right to express their opinions when they disagree with government policy.

“However, infringing on the rights of others — including health-care workers fulfilling their duties, and patients, clients, and residents receiving care — is not acceptable,” Island Health said in a statement.

Island Health said its care providers should not have to face such unacceptable behaviour and worry for their safety when they are caring for the well-being of others.

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