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Canada's doctors call for better protection from harassment, threats

Last Updated Nov 18, 2021 at 11:07 am MST

The Canadian Medical Association wants Ottawa and social media platforms to step up and protect health-care workers.

The organization says online harassment and threats of violence targetting doctors and other healthcare workers are escalating.

The CMA wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow through on his commitment to making that behaviour a criminal offence.

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“During the pandemic, health workers have shared scientific knowledge, advanced evidence-based positions, and advocated for the public’s health and wellness on social media. We should be celebrating these voices, but instead, they are at risk of being silenced by harmful, hateful and bullying behaviour,” said CMA President Dr. Katharine Smart in a statement.

The CMA is also calling on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok to develop an action plan to stop online harassment and personal threats against health care staff.

“The health workforce is already facing unprecedented levels of burnout and exhaustion because of the pandemic. No one should also be subjected to threats and intimidation on the job,” Smart added.


“As Canadians, we must call for better treatment of health workers and demand a safer environment for them to speak out.”

The doctors’ organization cites a study from the spring suggesting nearly a quarter of physicians surveyed reported being personally attacked on social media in 2019.