In the wake of anti-vaxxers protesting outside a vaccination clinic at the House of Ancestors in Prince George today, RCMP are warning that new legislation makes it an offence to protest at clinics.
The new Access to Services (COVID-19) Act came into effect on November 26. It created two new enforcement actions to protect access of services to the public. The new enforcement actions have been created to protect access to facilities that provide services of public importance and to protect the people at the facilities who use or provide the services.
Complaints to police included reports of protesters following patrons of the vaccine clinic back to their vehicles while shouting anti-vaccine slogans and rhetoric, which were perceived as intimidating.
“Under the new Act, police can respond to complaints of this nature in two ways: through arrests and by issuing violation tickets with an attached fine of $2,300,” said Cpl. Jennifer Cooper. “We want to remind the public that while you may not feel your actions are intimidating, to those people accessing the services of the vaccine clinic being followed to or from their vehicle and being shouted at in close proximity can be very intimidating.”
Contraventions of the Act include:
a) Impeding access to or egress from a facility,
b) Physically interfering with or otherwise disrupting the provision of services at the facility,
c) Intimidating or attempting to intimidate an individual or otherwise doing or saying anything that could reasonably be expected to cause an individual concern for the individual’s physical or mental safety, or
d) Wilfully participating in a gathering whose participants are engaged in the conduct in (a) – (c) above.
To support the contraventions, the Act creates access zones around sites where COVID-19 testing or vaccinations are being provided to the public that extend 20 metres from the facility, all day, every day. Additionally, the provisions around intimidation could extend to wording on signs or placards that are in view of those accessing the site.