Sask. doctor says healthcare workers facing harassment for sharing COVID-19 opinions

Physicians and healthcare workers say they are facing harassment both online and in-person for sharing their opinions of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Dr. Kevin Wasko, a physician executive for integrated rural health with the Saskatchewan Health Authority said, after 18 long months of the pandemic, online abuse and protests at their places of work are taking a toll of their own.

This harassment has evolved over the past few months as frustration and anger about the pandemic and vaccines grew, said Wasko.

“This is not the sentiment of a whole society. This is how a few people think, and because there are some people frustrated, that doesn’t mean every body gets angry,” said Wasko.

He said those on the frontline take the brunt of these frustrations because people can see them and ask questions.

“We want COVID-19 to be over as much, if not more, than everyone else and we’re trying to put forward what we know to be the best evidence,” Wasko said.

He said he tries to dispel misinformation and clear up any misconceptions that may confuse or mislead people, by being active on social media. Wasko said this sometimes directs the anger towards him.

He said he has witnessed colleagues, specifically his nursing staff, receiving anger and harassment as well.

“If you would come to us and allow us to treat you for whatever illness that you could have and you wouldn’t think about it and you trust our opinion and our judgement, please trust our opinion and judgement on getting immunized,” he said.

He is also reminding others in the industry to support each other and encourages them to show resilience.

Ryan Meili, NDP leader and doctor, thanked healthcare professionals who do what they can to speak out.

“I just encourage them to keep it up because we have to, we have to, we have to break through at some point,” said Meili.

CTV News reached out to Minister of Health Paul Merriman, but he was not available for a comment.