Editor for the Pipestone Flyer Shaela Dansereau

Editor for the Pipestone Flyer Shaela Dansereau

OPINION: How the times have changed

Protestors in front of hospitals should be removed and charged under Bill 1.

There is something confusing me lately — and that is how in the blink of an eye our first responders, our nurses, doctors and hospital staff somehow went from heroes to villains.

Not only has the Alberta government turned their back on the people who have exhausted themselves physically and mentally over the last year and a half to help as many people as possible recover from this pandemic, but now so have the radicals.

How did we go from stepping outside at night to cheer on the first responders to throwing things at them on their way into work?

It makes me sick to my stomach watching the health care workers, patients and more have to walk through an angry mob of anti-vaxxers to get into a hospital. It is disgusting that people think it is okay to treat the humans who are trying to save you as you fall ill this way.

At the start of this pandemic many first responders didn’t see their families, or hug their own children, out of fear of spreading a virus which they faced head on everyday. They have been working overtime for over a year, with little rest and definitely not enough compensation. In fact the fear of nurse wage cuts still hangs over the heads of many.

The treatment of them with these hospital protests is abhorrent.

I also think it is important for these protesters to realize that there are dozens of reasons a person visits a hospital — including to receive treatment for life-threatening conditions such as cancer. It is incredibly disheartening to hear patients’ stories from across Canada and even Alberta that they have to walk through a mob of angry people while immunocompromised or facing a difficult life decision about their health or the health of a loved one.

It is also incredibly disappointing that the Alberta government has not stepped up to remove these protesters. Although Premier Kenney denounced the actions of the protesters in a statement Monday, he himself enacted a bill that gives law enforcement powers to remove said people in this situation, and so far it feels like nothing has been done but saying a few pretty words emphasizing that he sides with Alberta Health Services and health care workers.

In June of 2020, Jason Kenney’s government passed Bill 1. The Critical Infrastructure Defence Act into law. This bill implements tougher punishments on protesters who set up blockades near or along “essential infrastructure.”

As far as I see it, blocking ambulance bays and hospital entrances during a pandemic no less, definitely qualifies as blocking critical infrastructure.

The UCP government is quick to act against protesters that stand against the oil sector, yet seem to have no qualms about the protests that put public citizens and health care workers’ lives at stake.

Protesters in front of hospitals should be removed and charged under Bill 1.

In my opinion, there is no two sides to this. If you are attacking the people who will be treating you in the hospitals because they are protecting themselves and encouraging patients to protect themselves with vaccines, you are not a proud Albertan or Canadian — you are an embarrassment.