Peter Tabuns MPP, Toronto-Danforth

Government of Ontario

Horwath says hospital Safety Zones urgently needed to stop harassment, intimidation

HAMILTON — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says urgency is growing to act on her proposed legislation to create Safety Zones around places like hospitals and small businesses to protect people from anti-public health harassment.

“No one should have to walk a gauntlet of harassment and intimidation to get to a hospital. Not people who are sick. Not their families. And not the very health care workers who have been working tirelessly to save people from COVID-19,” said Horwath.

“The growing number of scary anti-public health protests targeting hospitals should be enough to get Doug Ford to come back to work and jump into action. Patients and health care heroes are being harassed. And it’s up to us to stop it, right now.”

Amid the rising tide of anti-vaccine demonstrations in Ontario, on Tuesday a woman with cancer was verbally attacked and shouted down in front of Kingston General Hospital. There have been threats of violence and threats to impede patients and ambulances, according to health advocates. Protests have also targeted small businesses, and in the case of at least two anti-vaccine protests, people with COVID-19 attended.

Horwath’s bill would make targeted harassment of people and businesses upholding public health rules in Safety Zones a provincial offence, punishable by a fine of up to $25,000. The law would also protect people’s right to access and patronize businesses free from harassment.

Horwath also pointed out that vaccine certificates or passports would ease the burden on small businesses that are being targeted.

“Local businesses that require staff and patrons to get vaccinated, health care workers, and the very people who do right by Ontario by getting their jab — these are the people and businesses who are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, and these are the people that need our protection and help now,” said Horwath.