Parade of vehicles in Regina to thank doctor follows last weekend's protest outside his home

·3 min read
Parade of vehicles in Regina to thank doctor follows last weekend's protest outside his home

Dozens of people in Regina came out on Sunday to show support for Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, after a small group of protesters went to his house last weekend to protest COVID-19 restrictions.

People drove by the legislature on Sunday in a parade style, and some had signs on their vehicles thanking Shahab for his work.

Barb Beaurivage, a health-care worker, said she saw the event on Facebook and wanted to come out and show her gratitude for the long days and hard work she said Shahab has been putting in.

"I recognize the toll it takes on people's mental health, including Dr. Shahab I'm sure, who's working so hard and tirelessly and all for this province," she said.

Beaurivage said she thinks the protesters crossed a line last week when they turned out at Shahab's home, adding it's not an acceptable way to express disagreement. She said she enjoys listening to his rationale when he explains his health recommendations and that those opposed to pandemic restrictions should do the same.

Bryan Eneas/CBC
Bryan Eneas/CBC

Marc Cyrenne came with his family to support the doctor.

"Dr. Shahab has worked hard to do his best to keep us safe, and I think it's just a nice way to say thank you. After what happened in front of his house, I'm sure ... that had to be scary [and] really hard on them, and I think we just need to say thank you," he said.

A handful of anti-mask protesters also showed up at Sunday's event. People at the support rally told CBC News that there had been some online backlash from anti-restriction protesters toward those attending Sunday's rally.

Bryan Eneas/CBC
Bryan Eneas/CBC

'Their home should really be their sanctuary'

Dr. Ann Collins, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said the protests at the homes of both Saskatchewan and Quebec's chief medical health officers in recent weeks are very troubling.

"These individuals, these chief medical officers of health, have been working tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic, even before that. And so their home should really be their sanctuary," she said in an interview.

Collins said people should try to remember that provincial chief medical health officers are trying to do their best work to protect people in every province.

"They are basing their advice on science, and so we do not want them to feel scared or intimidated. We want them to feel free, to feel protected and to feel safe to give the best advice that they can to our policy and decision-makers."

WATCH | Crowd shows its support for Sask. chief medical health officer:

Collins said people also need to remember that provincial governments, not chief medical health officers, make the final decisions on pandemic policy.

"First of all, it's important to recognize that people's frustration, which has been demonstrating itself with some peaceful protests ... stems from perhaps the lack of clarity on the part of governments in terms of restrictions," she said.

"You know, we're in a restriction. We're out of restriction. We're partially out of restriction. We don't know how long we're going to be into it, so that's understandable. But those decisions are made by government."

Collins said if she could speak directly to the protesters who went to Shahab's home last weekend, she would tell them to stop the intimidation and bullying.

"No one is happy with this pandemic. Chief medical officers of health ... they're feeling the same frustrations that Canadians are. They are Canadians," she said.

"But please allow them to enjoy the safety and peace in their home for whatever limited period of time they can, so that they can work effectively and feel safe and feel comfortable to give the best advice that they can."