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New legislation combats protests at B.C. hospitals, vaccination clinics, schools

The Province of B.C. is moving to prevent disruptive behaviour from affecting health-care facilities and schools.

In light of recent protests, new legislation introduced today (Nov. 15) will help maintain access to the critical services that BCers rely on, and protect those who provide those services.

Attorney General David Eby says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on many, but notes added pressures just make things worse.

“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,” Eby says.

“This bill establishes vital safeguards for our heroic essential service providers so they can do their jobs for all of us.”

According to the Province, the proposed legislation will protect hospitals, COVID-19 test and vaccination centres and K-12 schools by establishing 20-metre 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 act will give police the power to arrest or issue tickets to anyone impeding access to a facility, disrupting services or intimidating or attempting to intimidate an individual within access zones.

As well, courts will be able to issue an injunction to prevent people from contravening the act. It will not apply to lawful job action in access zones, as determined by the Labour Relations Board.

The act will continue to provide protection until July 1, 2023, though it may be repealed earlier if it is no longer required, the Province adds.

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