The Alberta government added hospitals and other facilities that provide health services to its list of protected infrastructure Tuesday.
Premier Kenney announced the additions to the province’s Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which allows the government to enforce trespassing, interfering with operations, construction and causing damage.
“Recent protests at hospitals have revealed the need to keep health-care workers safe and to make sure Albertans can receive critical care when they need it,” Kenney said, in a release. “All Canadians have the right to peaceful protest, but blocking ambulances and preventing people from getting treatment is definitely not peaceful. Law enforcement is now fully empowered to make sure hospitals and health facilities are safe.”
Justice Minister Kaycee Madu addressed the issue as well, saying that protests were not banned, but that any effort made by protesters at obstruction of health care workers would be prosecuted.
“It is dangerous for anyone or group to hamper the ability of Albertans to access health care when they need it. This is another tool for law enforcement to ensure our hard-working health-care professionals can do the work we are so grateful for.”
Penalties for individuals are a minimum fine of $1,000, and up to $10,000 and $25,000 for first and subsequent offences respectively or up to six months in prison, or both.
For corporations, a minimum fine of $10,000 and up to $200,000.
“Hospitals need to be protected for people seeking vital health care and services, and for the health-care workers dedicated to providing that care day in, day out,” said Health Minister Jason Copping. “Alberta’s government is taking this important step to ensure staff, patients and families all have safe, quick access to the facilities and services they need without added stress and fear over disruption or intimidation.
“By protecting essential infrastructure,” Copping added, “we are protecting and strengthening access to public health care.”
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