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Vancouver health authorities warn staff to shelter and hide medical credentials during anti-vaxx convoy

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Vancouver’s two health authorities are urging health-care workers to take defensive measures to avoid clashes with a convoy of anti-vaccination and anti-restriction demonstrators heading toward the city on Saturday.

Memos obtained by CTV News and sent to staff of Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health hospitals on Friday afternoon make similar suggestions not to engage with the protestors and reminding them that British Columbia now has legislation protecting health-care facilities from being impacted by demonstrations.

“As a precaution, we recommend that staff stay inside while the convoy is passing and to not engage with any protestors,” wrote Providence Health in a memo, describing the planned route as passing Mount Saint Joseph and St. Paul’s hospitals in its jurisdiction. “We acknowledge the right to peacefully and legally protest.”

Vancouver Coastal Health, which oversees Vancouver General Hospital, sent a longer memo with similar language to Providence but with some additional warnings.

“Refrain from wearing scrubs and/or your ID badge outside of the hospital during the demonstration,” read their memo. “If you do encounter any protestors, please do not engage or respond to their questions. Please do not ask protestors to put on a face mask.”

BC Cancer and the Provincial Health Services Authority also notified staff that with the convoy planned to pass the agency's provincial and corporate offices on West Broadway, they were urging the same precautions as VCH. The agency told staff to speak to their manager or supervisor if they have any questions.

The convoy in solidarity with an anti-vaccine mandate occupation of Ottawa comes months after anti-lockdown protests in Vancouver and Kelowna kept patients from being able to access hospital care and fast-tracked legislation to create “bubble zones” around hospitals and vaccination sites.

The convoy through Vancouver comes at a time hospitals are grappling with near-record levels of COVID-19 patients and crippling staffing shortages, due in part to Omicron infections among health-care workers.

“We understand that this is beyond disheartening in the face of all that you have been through and the extraordinary work each of you have been doing over the past two years of the pandemic,” wrote Vancouver Coastal Health. “We feel it too and we want to express our immense gratitude for your ongoing commitment and dedication to providing the best care to our patients during this very challenging time.”

An image of the VCH memo follows.

A memo sent to Vancouver General Hospital staff on Feb. 4, 2022, is shown.

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