A British Columbia family doctor is speaking out, after protesters opposed to COVID-19 measures targeted a vaccine clinic in New Westminster on Thursday.
Dr. Kathleen Ross, who is also the former president of Doctors of B.C., told Global News she was working at the Anvil Centre vaccine clinic when the protesters showed up around noon.
“(They were) holding placards with a variety of different things on them: something anti-mask, some anti-vax, some with some very strange slogans about COVID is the devil, and the vaccines are the devil. It was very disturbing,” Ross said.
Ross estimated that the protest grew to about 50 people at its peak, and lasted from about noon to 3 p.m.
She said some health-care workers coming to work at the site were harassed as they entered.
“One of my colleagues was called disgusting as she headed into the building and others had various slurs put towards them,” Ross said.
“We do our best to disguise our IDs coming in and out. However, it’s still fairly obvious when we’re wearing greens, what we’re doing here.”
She said she was also concerned the protesters could have intimidated people who were coming to the site to get their vaccinations.
New Westminster police attended to keep the peace and ensure that the situation did not get “out of hand,” she said.
Fraser Health referred questions to police, but said clinic operations were not affected.
Global News has requested comment from New Westminster police.
Protesting outside of a vaccine clinic, hospital or school is illegal under legislation passed in British Columbia in November 2021.
The Access to Services COVID-19 Act was meant to prevent disruptions at essential services by creating bubble zones of 20 metres (66 feet) around them.
Under the act, it is 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.
Police are empowered under the act to arrest protesters or issue tickets to anyone impeding access to a facility or attempting to indimadate anyone within the access zone.
Thursday’s protest came as demonstrators opposed to COVID-19 measures continued to occupy Ottawa calling for a variety of things, ranging from an end to vaccine exemptions for truckers, to a removal of all COVID-19 mandates to the removal of Canada’s elected government.
Since the convoy arrived in Ottawa last weekend, some participants have also been accused of harassing residents, bothering Ottawa businesses, and displaying Nazi and Confederate flags.
— with files from Richard Zussman