B.C. Premier John Horgan says his government is looking to follow Quebec’s lead and put in rules banning protests at hospitals, schools and COVID-19 vaccination or testing sites.
Horgan says attorney general David Eby and solicitor general Mike Farnworth are currently working on legislation or perhaps policy changes to existing regulations to protect workers and those that are accessing essential services.
This comes after protests last week in Salmon Arm where people barged into a school to protest a vaccination clinic. Health care workers have also been verbally harassed and were blocked from doing their jobs during protests on Sept. 1 by people concerned about the province’s vaccination rules.
“I think all BCers are perplexed that people who have a different point of view, a minority view, would choose to disrupt children in education settings or patients in health care settings to get their point across. I’m hopeful that we’ve seen the last of that type of behaviour,” Horgan said.
“We want to ensure that that doesn’t happen again. It is something that we don’t do lightly but we do, in the interests of the vast majority of BCers who want to know that they can go about their business free from intolerance from a select few.”
The Quebec bill, if passed, would stop protests within 50 metres of schools, daycares, hospitals, clinics, COVID-19 vaccination sites and testing centres.
If passed, the law would punish anyone who takes part in these kinds of protests or help organize them with fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.
The penalties double if someone threatens or intimidates a person who is going to, trying to gain access or leaving.
Unions in British Columbia support the idea of the province incorporating similar rules to Quebec. Mike Old from the B.C. Hospital Employees Union says the rules should come in quickly and should also ensure picketing and other peaceful protests are still allowed.
“There are patients and families that are having some of the worst days of their lives and they shouldn’t have to run a gauntlet,” Old said.
Horgan was also asked Thursday whether the province has found out when support may be coming to implement a vaccine card.
On the campaign trail, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to launch a $1 billion COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Fund to support provinces and territories that implement a requirement for proof of vaccine credentials.
“The federal government did make a commitment. We did not talk about that when I spoke with the prime minister,” Horgan said.
“I know that we did make great progress as a federation through COVID by having regular meetings, talking out these issues and bringing together the diversity in our country from coast to coast to coast, and the federal government acknowledged that, recognized that.”
The Liberals also committed to table legislation ensuring every business and organization that decides to require proof of vaccination from employees and customers can do so without fear of a legal challenge.