Protestors rally at hospitals across Ontario, including RVH in Barrie

Protests against COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine certificates will be happening across the country Monday, including one at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie.

A group of anti-vaccine protestors that calls itself Canadian Frontline Nurses organized the series of rallies to demonstrate its opposition to vaccine mandates.

"These rallies in front of hospitals are disheartening," said RVH president and CEO Janice Skot. "They are frustrating, and for our health care workers who have been working tirelessly throughout this gruelling pandemic, they are offensive."

Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said it's important to understand what's happening inside hospitals. "People are having their most difficult days, they are having to say goodbye to loved ones who are friends or family, and you have kids going in for surgery who are themselves seeking treatment."

Barrie police posted to social media that they are aware of the planned rallies and "will be present to ensure hospital operations are not affected, and the safety of the public, hospital staff, patients and all visitors is maintained."

The service warns charges will be laid "if required."

In addition to RVH, four other hospitals across Ontario have been chosen, including Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury and London.

Premier Doug Ford condemned the protests. "The protests we're seeing outside of hospitals are selfish, cowardly and reckless. Our health care workers have sacrificed so much to keep us all safe during this pandemic. They don't deserve this kind of treatment - not now, not ever. Leave our health care workers alone," Ford posted online.

Similar protests in the past have seen healthcare workers and patients report incidences of harassment.

With files from the Canadian Press