Two protests have taken place so far within the past two weeks over the issue and a third may occur on Friday, October 22. Louise Larocque and Lucie Thibault, who organized one of the protests, which took place October 15 outside of MP Francis Drouin’s Hawkesbury constituency office, said the focus of the events was to express concern about the possible loss of jobs for any employees with the hospital or seniors care homes who either refused or were unable to comply with the new mandatory vaccination policy that the province put into effect October 15 for all health care workers in Ontario.
“It’s all about people losing their jobs (over vaccination),” said Larocque during a later interview.
The first protest took place October 8 when a group of 31 protestors marched up and down Spence Avenue and Duplate Street near Hawkesbury and District General Hospital (HGH). The second demonstration outside of the MP’s office saw about 20 people gather first at the main entrance door to the office in the side alley at 179 Laurier Street then move on as a group to Laurier Street to provide a more public display for their protest.
During both events protestors took care not to interfere with traffic and also not block access in and out of HGH or the MP’s office. Larocque said another demonstration may take place again outside of the MP’s office on October 22.
The mandatory vaccination policy, which took effect October 15, aims at ensuring the protection of all hospital staff and visitors, but the protestors argue that mandatory vaccination and other government mandates infringe upon personal freedom.
HGH Vice President of Human Resources Gisèle Larocque said that hospital staff were informed of the new mandate August 26 and have known for a while that vaccination was to be compulsory for everyone working at HGH. Any information on possible suspensions or terminations for those who refuse is private.
Liberal MPP John Fraser (Ottawa South) has introduced a private member’s bill in the legislature to prohibit protests within a 150-meter radius around hospitals, but the legislation has not been passed yet.