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New act protects important services from disruption

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 3:50 PST, Mon November 15, 2021

New legislation will help maintain access to critical services that British Columbians rely on and protect those who provide those services, as the province moves to prevent disruptive behaviour from affecting schools and health care facilities.

"Over the last few months, we've seen a small number of people protesting against COVID-19 protective measures by blocking access to health\ care facilities and schools," said Premier John Horgan. "While everyone has a right to protest, interfering with patients accessing hospital care or with kids trying to get to school is completely unacceptable. This legislation will help to keep these important facilities secure and ensure the safety of both those who use them and those who work in them."

The proposed legislation will protect hospitals, COVID-19 test and vaccination centres, and public schools by establishing 20 metre (66 feet) access zones around them. Within an access zone, it will be an offence to impede access to the facility, disrupt services or act in a way that could reasonably be expected to cause service users or providers concern for their physical or mental safety.

"The pandemic has been incredibly stressful for all British Columbians, and we don't need added pressure on key workers who are already under significant strain due to the impact of COVID-19," said Attorney General David Eby. "Free speech is an important right, but there is no right to intimidate already stressed and pressured health-care workers, patients, students, teachers and staff. This bill establishes vital safeguards for our heroic essential service providers so they can do their jobs for all of us."

Dr. Matthew Chow, president of Doctors of BC, said, health care workers and their patients need a safe and respectful environment to heal. 

”Recent protests in and around health-care facilities have been disruptive, demoralizing and inappropriate,” he sad. “Doctors of BC supports measures to make our health-care facilities safer and free from intimidation, harassment and abuse. We thank the vast majority of British Columbians who have expressed support for health-care workers. Today's announcement will help us to continue our important work with confidence."

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