‘Profoundly disrespectful’: protesters outside HSC harassed patients, staff for wearing masks

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s Shared Health is condemning an anti-vaccine mandate protest outside the Health Sciences Centre as ‘profoundly disrespectful’ saying protesters aggressively harassed patients and staff for wearing masks.

The protest attracted hundreds of people along Sherbrook Street outside the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, with some carrying signs opposing vaccine passports. At one point during the demonstration, protesters walked out into traffic blocking vehicles from passing.

“Today’s demonstration, which slowed the public and staff’s ability to access HSC Winnipeg, was disappointing to witness and profoundly disrespectful to the dedicated health-care workers who have continuously put the health and well-being of Manitobans first,” a Shared Health spokesperson told CTV News in a statement.

“We have heard from staff and patients who experienced difficulty accessing our facility or who were aggressively harassed for wearing masks.”

The spokesperson said some patients opted to cancel their appointments rather than approach the protesters standing near the entrance.

They said while Shared Health respects the freedom of individuals to protest, people need to do it in a peaceful way that doesn’t disrupt people’s access to medical care.

Darlene Jackson, the president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said the union was not involved in the protest in any way and said it is unfortunate the group is taking attention away from the vaccination efforts.

“The vast majority of nurses in this country have seen first-hand the devastating effects of COVID-19 and understand that the only way out of this pandemic is through social distancing, masking and vaccination,” Jackson said in a statement to CTV News.

“Rather than distract from key issues facing our health care system such as the critical nursing shortage here in Manitoba, we will remain focused on what truly matters to patients and nurses alike.”

Winnipeg police told CTV News they were aware of the event, but would not comment further. 

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