WECHU speaking out against increased threats and abusive language towards staff members

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The number of threats against the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) is increasing.

CEO Nicole Dupuis says over the last few weeks, the health unit has received more threats along with abusive language towards staff members and harassment of staff.

"Over the past few weeks there's been escalation in the level of language and it crossed the line at times with threats and abuse and sometimes threats of physical violence towards our staff," says Dupuis.

She says police have been called on some occasions and adds the health unit is no longer receiving comments on its social media pages.

"We've actually as an organization, it's something that was a hard decision for us to do but we've closed comments on our social media and it was a way for us to engage with the public and to answer questions but the language has escalated to a point where we had to make a decision to close that down,"  she says.

Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, says health officials accept healthy skepticism but recently it has crossed the line.

"At this point of the pandemic we've had a number of individuals who have articulated their perspectives and crossed the line from civil discourse into threatening, abusive or disrespectful commentary and in some cases that commentary has included implied or explicit threats," Dr. Nesathurai stated.

Dupuis says the health unit has received in-person threats along with virtual and online threats.

She adds there have been no physical injuries, but says personal attacks and language that is abusive and threatening also injures just in a different way.

Dupuis could not comment on whether or not police laid any charges.

The health unit is asking the community to show empathy and kindness.