Police on hand as pandemic protesters picket hospitals


Two police officers escorted Faye Doiron and Randy Longaphie as they left Toronto General Hospital on Monday, helping the pair make their way through a crowd of protesters denouncing pandemic measures.

Doiron, who came to Toronto from Prince Edward Island to wait for a lung transplant, was leaving after a physiotherapy session at the hospital, with Longaphie, her cousin, pushing her wheelchair.

The crowd of largely unmasked demonstrators parted slowly but peacefully to let them through as one officer led the way and another walked behind them.

"It's terrifying," Doiron said. "Doctors told me if I ever catch COVID, I won't make it."

Dozens of demonstrators attended the rally Monday, many of them condemning Ontario's proof-of-vaccination system, which is scheduled to take effect next week. A larger demonstration also took place earlier Monday afternoon outside the Ontario legislature.

The event was one of several expected across Canada on Monday. An organization calling itself Canadian Frontline Nurses posted notices of "silent vigils" set to take place in multiple communities, which it said were meant to critique public health measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Outside Vancouver city hall, police estimated a crowd of about 400 gathered to protest against vaccinations and vaccine passports, which went into effect in B.C. on Monday. Some carried signs that read "My body, my choice."

They later began marching downtown to British Columbia's Supreme Court while police diverted traffic.

It was announced Monday that all health-care workers and volunteers in B.C. will soon have to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said hospitals are under strain from people who are unvaccinated.

"Sadly, the choice of not to get vaccinated is affecting our families and our communities across the province," she said.

Police in Victoria said a man was arrested for assault during a protest at the B.C. legislature.

They say while the protests in the city were centred at the legislature, a square adjacent to city hall and some media outlets, officers did provide routine patrols to Royal Jubilee Hospital and health-care facilities.

Victoria police say the man was arrested after a person was assaulted by being doused with a hot liquid. The alleged victim declined medical treatment, said police, who are continuing their investigation. No charges have been laid.

Planned locations included the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre and the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

Organizers said they wanted to take a stand against what they call "tyrannical measures and government overreach," but added they were not encouraging nurses to walk out on their shifts or abandon patients.

In Montreal, demonstrators rallied at McGill University Hospital Centre's Glen site, some of them carrying signs questioning the use of COVID-19 vaccines. Others bore signs opposing rules imposed on health-care workers.

Roughly two dozen protesters gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax on Monday, many of them voicing concerns about the proof-of-vaccination system announced by health officials in that province last week, which takes effect October 4.

Police officers wearing yellow vests controlled a crowd of protesters at Calgary's Foothills Medical Centre on Monday afternoon, ensuring patients and staff could enter the facility safely.

Dozens of people rallying against public health restrictions -- notably vaccine passports -- crowded one street corner. Some bore signs that read "medical vaccine

medical tyranny" and "lockdowns are a crime against humanity," while a group of counter-protesters held up a sign that read "we stand with AHS (Alberta Health Services)."

-- with files from CTV News and The Canadian Press --