November 29th, 2021

NDP urges safety zones after families in North Bay face anti-vax harassment at kids’ clinic

NORTH BAY AND QUEEN’S PARK — After anti-vaxxers verbally accosted parents and their kids at a children’s vaccine clinic in North Bay over the weekend, Ontario’s New Democrats are again calling on the Ford government to pass safety zones legislation to protect people from this kind of harassment.

When Abby Blaszczyk took her seven-year-old son to get his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in North Bay this Sunday, her whole family was verbally accosted by anti-vaxxers using megaphones to hurl vitriol. One man screamed at Blaszczyk’s son that he had been poisoned and yelled at her that she was committing genocide and was a murderer.

“What anti-vaxxers did yesterday in North Bay is despicable. It’s completely unacceptable that any family would be terrorized like Abby’s was,” said Michael Mantha, NDP MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin. “We should be making it easier for parents to take their kids to get vaccinated against COVID-19, not leaving them vulnerable to walking a gauntlet of hate on their way in to their appointment.”

Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath brought forward a private member’s bill in August to create safety zones. The bill would establish safety zones in places like hospitals, schools and vaccine clinics and protect Ontarians by making it a provincial offence, punishable by a fine of up to $25,000, to subject people like health care heroes and patients, kids and parents, to anti-public health harassment in these areas.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that North Bay families including Abby’s could have been spared the vitriol they were subjected to Sunday,” said Erika Lougheed, Ontario NDP candidate for Nipissing. “I’m urging our local MPP, Vic Fedeli, and the Doug Ford government to pass safety zone legislation without delay so that no other family in North Bay has to endure what Abby’s family and others endured on Sunday.”

Blaszczyk is grateful that her son had the protection of his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but she worries about the lasting impact of the horrifying words the anti-vaxxers hurled at them.

“While I’m extremely relieved that my seven-year-old was able to get vaccinated, our family is shaken by what we experienced on Sunday,” said Blaszcyzk. “I’m worried that my son is traumatized by the cruel, anti-science misinformation that was screamed at us. We know how important vaccination is to protecting our kids, and my son will need his second shot in a few short weeks. My family, and all families, deserve to know that the government won’t let this happen again anywhere in our province.”