Canada is in critical condition - opinion

Those who have led the convoy have heaped scorn and vitriol against front line health care workers, threatened them and blitzed them with racist and misogynist social media attacks.

 A WOMAN holds a sign during a counter-protest in which residents blocked a small convoy of supporters of truckers who were demonstrating against COVID-19 vaccine mandates on the outskirts of Ottawa earlier this month.  (photo credit: CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS)
A WOMAN holds a sign during a counter-protest in which residents blocked a small convoy of supporters of truckers who were demonstrating against COVID-19 vaccine mandates on the outskirts of Ottawa earlier this month.
(photo credit: CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS)

I am a doctor, not a politician. I work at vaccine clinics and in shelters.

Canada is in critical condition.

Health care workers know as much as anybody how horrendous the last two years have been for everybody, including those in the convoy. We share the sickness, death and loneliness brought on by COVID-19. We too are sick and tired of the ambiguity, despair and economic hardship, but that does not mean that we, or any Canadian, should have to put up with the chaos of the past three weeks – ever.

Since the beginning, those who have led the convoy have heaped scorn and vitriol against front line health care workers, threatened them and blitzed them with racist and misogynist social media attacks. How grotesque that they target the very health care professionals who care for them and rescue them from a COVID-19 death.

Nurse practitioners, intensive care nurses and pediatricians have cared for children struck with COVID-19. At Sick Kids Hospital, they have tended to adults admitted to this children’s hospital as adult hospitals filled up.

 Trucks block downtown streets as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 10, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/PATRICK DOYLE) Trucks block downtown streets as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 10, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/PATRICK DOYLE)

Health care workers have respect and reverence for children. The occupiers and convoy commanders hide behind their children who they took with them, exposing children to diesel fumes, excruciating loud noises, and profanity on the streets and on their signs. They were unashamed to use children to shield them from arrests for their lawlessness. Heroes protect their children; cowards hide behind them. This was a convoy of cowards.

Toronto, Canada’s largest city, was threatened by the convoy leaders and the Ottawa occupiers who declared that Toronto needed some entertainment and they were coming to deliver it. Health care workers were told by their hospitals not to wear uniforms that would identify them. But we will not be intimidated and sneak into our clinics and hospitals to do our work.

This was not a freedom-loving convoy, this was a freedom-killing convoy. These occupiers and blockaders tried to drive health care workers underground, they tried to kill our economy, kill our reputation internationally and they devastated many vulnerable people across the country.

In Ottawa, some members of Parliament nourished, promoted, and praised the occupation and the blockades. They walked with those who ambushed our country and posed with them for photos. The leader of the opposition applauded the convoy overlords as patriots and freedom fighters. They deepened the divisions in our country.

Those members of parliament hurt our country and betrayed many health care workers. They are disloyal citizens.

In Ontario, Canada’s most populace province, all Premier Doug Ford could say at the beginning was God bless to those who menaced our country. No blessings for the heroic nurses who have been the vanguard of the fight against COVID-19.

Health care professionals have struggled fiercely in a chronically underfunded system to safeguard ailing people. They have been hugely affected by the excruciating pandemic pressure of hospital and intensive care unit beds moving perilously close to shut down. Long-term care homes became death traps. Many elective surgeries and life-saving treatments have been canceled and postponed. The government has failed the sick across the country.

As health care workers persevered, all levels of governments fled in these past three weeks. This was a historic abandonment. Governance in Ottawa became a colossal and appalling failure. We, the ordinary patients and health care workers were left on our own for three weeks, as the occupiers rampaged over the heart of our democracy. No protection, no defense, no leadership.

It is time for caring, concerned and responsible Canadians to stand up and reclaim our country, proclaim our values of fairness, of watching out for our neighbors. We must cast out the rancid talk screamed in the streets these past few weeks.

Our health depends on it.

The writer is a long-time downtown Toronto physician and a former member of the Canadian Jewish Congress Board of Directors.