Incidents of abusive and threatening language against Durham Health staff have been escalating recently, according to Durham Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Kyle.
“Staff is also having to manage increasing numbers of residents who refuse to comply and cooperate with public health direction, and residents who are angry with provincial public health measures and direction,” he added.
“It is the Health Department’s responsibility to enforce laws, provide direction and share guidance to protect the health of residents,” Dr. Kyle pointed out in an issued statement yesterday.
“As the pandemic continues, it is understandable that everyone is feeling frustrated, exhausted and anxious for life to return to normal. Sadly, some of the public health restrictions intended to keep the public safe from Covid-19 have also impacted community members in very serious ways, in some instances leading to financial hardship, job loss, loneliness and isolation. The past year has been very challenging for so many, especially for those that have lost a loved one to Covid-19. While we know the past year has been difficult, I ask all residents to continue to be respectful, support each other and work together to prevent illness spread in our community.”
Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, it is the Health Department’s duty to protect the public from health hazards in the community and risks of communicable diseases.
“My staff has the authority to enforce provincial laws, Medical Officer of Health orders and public health direction to keep people safe. It is important to remember that the Health Department’s role to protect the health of the public has not changed, but the risks to our community have changed significantly. My staff continues to work very hard to address these risks and provide all residents with the information they need to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in our community,” Dr. Kyle pointed out.
“While we are now working on vaccinating residents in accordance with the province’s vaccine implementation plan, we continue to manage cases of Covid-19 and their high-risk contacts, respond to outbreaks, and conduct inspections to ensure businesses and workplaces are complying with public health measures.
Zero tolerance for profane, aggressive, abusive, sexist, racist or homophobic language
“As we do this work, we have zero tolerance for community members who engage in the use of profane, aggressive, abusive, sexist, racist or homophobic language. We know that most members of our community are willing to do what’s right to protect all of us. However, I assure you, those who are not willing to comply with public health instructions and continue to subject Health Department staff to abuse and harm will be referred to the appropriate authority for follow-up. This is not something that I take lightly and will ensure the protection of my staff remains a high priority,” said Dr. Kyle.
“The health and safety of Durham Region residents continues to be our main focus. The ongoing cooperation and support of area residents will help keep everyone safe,” he added.