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crowd of assorted grassroots groups and Greater Toronto Area residents gathered downtown this afternoon to support health care workers amidst the trucker convoy and anti-lockdowns rally that have taken over the downtown core. 

The crowd of close to 300 health care supporters met at the Medical Sciences building at the University of Toronto at 12 p.m. The march was organised by doctors Naheed Dosani, Andrew Boozary, and several other health care practitioners who have become leading health care voices online and in the media. 

Hundreds of health care workers and their supporters rallied against the anti-lockdown trucker convoy on Saturday, February 5, 2022. Photo by Joshua Best

Marchers held an assortment of pro-health care worker and pro-vaccination signs throughout the crowd. Among the issues highlighted was a rejection of Toronto Police Service’s recent advice that health care workers avoid wearing identifying clothing.

“Health workers in the Toronto area are being asked not to wear clothing that makes them look like health workers by the authorities,” Dr. Dosani told The Hoser over a phone call on Friday. “And, you know, this has made many of us feel very concerned about the state of affairs. They used to cheer for us and bang pots and pans, and now we have to hide in plain sight just to be safe.”

Many protestors and health care workers raised signs denouncing Bill 124. This bill, passed by the Ford Government in Ontario in 2019, caps public sector salary increases at 1 per cent. As inflation hit a rate of 4.9 per cent in the province in 2021, the legislation amounts to a salary cut for public healthcare workers through the pandemic.

University Avenue between Queen St. and College St. were closed off by police barricades except for emergency vehicles. Marchers arrived at the Toronto General Hospital Peter Munk Cardiac Health Centre shortly after meeting at the University of Toronto. 

Dr. Meb Rashid, a physician for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, spoke to the crowd at the Toronto General Hospital: “We are here today because our patients need to know that they'll not have to navigate road closures when they have to get to the hospital if they're in pain. They need to know that in their most vulnerable moments, when they're lying in these buildings around us, they will not be tormented by the persistent honking of horns. People need to know they'll not be threatened for simply wearing masks.”

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Dr. Meb Rashid spoke to the crowd in front of the Toronto General Hospital on Saturday, February 5th, 2022. Photo by Joshua Best

There were few anti-vaccination / anti-lockdown demonstrators passing through this area and no visible confrontations beyond some heated verbal exchanges. The few passing through wore Canadian flags, some holding black “Fuck Trudeau” flags and playing music from portable sound systems. 

After the speeches from doctors and nurses in front of the Cardiac Health Centre the march went back to the University of Toronto, ending around 1:30 p.m. Organisers advised the crowd there to leave in pairs or groups for safety.

As of 3 p.m. on Saturday one arrest has been made by the Toronto Police Service within the anti-lockdown rally. A 22 year-old man was detained for “assault with a weapon, administering a noxious substance (smoke bomb), and public mischief.”

Posted 
Feb 5, 2022
 in 
Local News
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