**** Justice Media Release
Legislation to Protect Patients, Health-Service Providers, Staff of Healthcare Facilities
The Province is taking action to protect patients, health-service providers and staff of healthcare facilities from protests intended to interfere with Nova Scotians accessing hospital and other healthcare services.
The Protecting Access to Health Services Act, introduced today, October 14, will prohibit protests and other disruptive activities at healthcare facilities and the homes of patients who receive healthcare services at home.
The legislation will establish a 50-metre safe-access bubble zone around facilities such as hospitals, mental-health services, home-care services, long-term care services, clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies. Peaceful protests can occur outside that perimeter.
“Nova Scotians have the right to access healthcare without fear for their health and safety. This includes patients and their families,” said Premier Tim Houston. “While Nova Scotians have a right to protest, protests cannot be allowed to disrupt access to healthcare. People need to be able to go to work or access the help they need without facing intimidation or harassment.”
The legislation will strike a balance between the rights to protest and free expression and the right of patients to access healthcare, and the need to keep health-service providers and the staff of healthcare facilities safe.
The legislation will come into force upon Royal Assent.
“While we fully respect the right to protest, it is important that healthcare facilities and their properties are safe spaces for patients and families to access care. People struggling with serious health issues should be protected from the additional stress and worry protests may cause.”
– Dr. Heather Johnson, President, Doctors Nova Scotia
— penalties will be similar to the Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Act, which prohibits protests at abortion services clinics
— other provinces have also introduced or plan to introduce legislation to safeguard access to healthcare facilities and services
— the legislation is not limited to the current state of emergency, which came into effect March 22, 2020
Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information on government’s response to COVID-19 at: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus