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From hero to hater: Health workers sign open letter denouncing abuse – National

When COVID-19 is available nationwide for the first time, people step out of the house to bang pots and pans to show support for medical workers. A pair of designer shoes named after BC’s top doctor. Businesses and residents have sent free food to hospitals.

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But on Monday, when Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth walked into her office, she had another kind message waiting on her answering machine.

“You are lying a– c—,” the voicemail was left on the phone at her family health clinic in Ottawa over the weekend.

“I bet you love abortion, that’s why you have hyphens in your name, can’t even take your husband’s last name. I am sure about that. Another radical leftist, the monstrous radical feminist c- who is just trying to destroy the world. Those people are also fighting for your freedom, you stupid c—. ”

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Kaplan-Myrth says she’s not even sure it’s worth calling the police. She had received death threats in the past, and when she reported them, she felt the police “didn’t care”.

“This line has been crossed many times,” she said.

She is not alone. Across Canada, in response to rising anger directed at healthcare workers, hospitals have asked staff to take additional precautions.


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Personal support workers in Ottawa were emailed by their employer on Saturday offering them “a refuge” or a “safe room” downtown. The email, obtained by Global News, explains that a downtown hotel is providing “health care and other essential workers” with a “safe space” they can use. use, when an anti-proxy protest clogged the streets of downtown Ottawa.

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Staff at Vancouver hospitals have also warned to take precautions on Friday, prior to the planned protest against COVID-19 missions. In an emailed memo to all Vancouver medical and acute care workers, Vancouver Coastal Health said the route for Saturday’s protest is expected to cross multiple hospitals.

Paramedics are urged to stay indoors throughout the convoy, not to interact with any protesters they encounter and to “avoid wearing makeup remover clothing and/or your ID card outside the hospital. in protest.”

In another email obtained by Global News, healthcare workers in Toronto are required to wear “street clothing” on their way to work, “not clothing that identifies you as a healthcare worker.”

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That’s why Kaplan-Myrth decided to put pen to paper and call out the harassment and hatred that healthcare workers have faced. To date, that open letter has attracted at least 1,600 signatures from experts who fight health in their work — doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers, etc., she said.

The message from the letter, she said, was to “tell the Canadian public that this is not okay.”

“We, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and public health scholars across the country, will NOT hide our fear of violence from hate-filled convoys,” the letter said. write.

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“We will not shrink back. We will not hide. We will exfoliate our skin in public without fear knowing that you – Canadians – have our backs.”

Dr. Amit Arya, a palliative care physician, has experienced what vitriol healthcare workers can face first-hand. His name was one of 1,600 open letters in support of Kaplan-Myrth.

“I have received death threats, and people have also tried to contact my office, here in the hospital, asking and asking to speak to me immediately because they disagree. that vaccination (is) safe and very effective,” says Arya.

“I have faced a lot of harassment. Of course, a lot of this harassment is racist in its tone. “


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The threats are starting to affect his daily life. Arya said he sometimes feels insecure, no matter where he is.

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“Even when I’m at home and walking with my dog, sometimes I look over my shoulder and I get nervous,” he says.

“Of course, I have a family, and they are worried too. And again, many of us are in this situation simply because we are campaigning to protect vulnerable people.”

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To stem the tide of hate, Arya said he thinks more needs to be done “to combat misinformation.”

Kaplan-Myrth added that it would be helpful if leaders – regardless of political leanings – could commit to keeping healthcare workers safe as they work in their communities.

“This is not about partisan politics. It is to ensure that we are safe while we care for you. That is all we ask,” she wrote in the open letter.


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The government took several steps to address this by the end of 2021, when it passed new legislation to single out healthcare workers for special protection from intimidation and intimidation in the workplace. work.

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Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said on Friday that the law introduced “severe criminal sanctions against those who threaten and intimidate health care workers”.

However, Kaplan-Myrth says the law doesn’t make much of a difference.

“The notion that doctors should seek refuge from harassment and intimidation has really given rise to the idea that people should be held accountable for their actions if they threaten or harass them,” she said. mess us up.

“It is illegal. It’s just that the police have to enforce the law.”


© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

https://globalnews.ca/news/8600964/covid-healthcare-harassment-hate-misinformation/ From hero to hater: Health workers sign open letter denouncing abuse – National

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