Alberta Premier Jason Kenney condemns hospital protests

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning protests at hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary on Monday organized by an anti-mandatory vaccination group. 

Canadian Frontline Nurses planned protests at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton and Foothills hospital in Calgary. 

In a statement posted online ahead of the events, Kenney said peaceful protests are a constitutional right but they also have limits. 

“Today’s protests must in no way obstruct the important operations of our hospitals, including the arrival and departure of emergency vehicles and workers. Blocking an ambulance is most definitely not peaceful protest,” he said. 

“In Alberta, local law enforcement is fully empowered to enforce the law in a timely fashion, including the potential use of the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act.” 

The act, passed in the spring of 2020, allows fines to be levied against any person or company found to have blocked, damaged or entered without reason any “essential infrastructure.”

Watch | Anti-mandatory vaccination protest in Edmonton

Anti-mandatory vaccination group protests at Edmonton hospital

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A group called Canadian Frontline Nurses held a protest in Edmonton Monday. About 70 protesters and 30 counter-protesters showed up at the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Edmonton. 1:43

The bill was passed in response to blockades of rail lines in January 2020. 

Alex Puddifant, press secretary to Justice Minister Kaycee Madu, told Radio Canada Monday that while hospitals are not explicitly mentioned in the bill, blocking a highway or public road in front of a hospital would be prohibited. 

Protesters found to have violated the act face fines up to $10,000 for a first offence and $25,000 and six months in jail for the second.  

Alberta Health Services enacted measures to protect staff and patients. 

“Additional Protective Services staff will be at the impacted hospitals to monitor the protests and respond as needed, including supporting staff and patients entering and exiting the facilities,” AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said.

“Fencing has been erected to provide patients, staff and physicians with a safe space, and we are encouraging them to use the SafeWalk service.”

Edmonton Police Service and Calgary Police Service were in attendance at the protests. Both police services said they will not tolerate anyone who blocks patients or staff. 

About 70 protesters and 30 counter-protesters showed up at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. The protests were noisy but mostly peaceful.

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