Protecting access to hospitals

Hospitals and other facilities that provide health services will now be subject to the same protection that railways, highways and pipelines receive under the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act. This law carries punishments for trespassing, interfering with operations and construction, and causing damage. It includes the flexibility to expand the definition of “essential infrastructure” through regulation, which is expected to be in place this week.

“Recent protests at hospitals have revealed the need to keep health-care workers safe and to make sure Albertans can receive critical care when they need it. All Canadians have the right to peaceful protest, but blocking ambulances and preventing people from getting treatment is definitely not peaceful. Law enforcement is now fully empowered to make sure hospitals and health facilities are safe.”Jason Kenney, Premier

Protests and demonstrations are not banned, as the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act does not restrict lawful protests or the exercise of constitutionally protected rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

“Our government is making more explicit through the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act that the safe operation of our hospitals is, indeed, critical, especially during this unprecedented time. It is dangerous for anyone or group to hamper the ability of Albertans to access health care when they need it. This is another tool for law enforcement to ensure our hard-working health-care professionals can do the work we are so grateful for.”Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

“Hospitals need to be protected for people seeking vital health care and services, and for the health-care workers dedicated to providing that care day in, day out. Alberta’s government is taking this important step to ensure staff, patients and families all have safe, quick access to the facilities and services they need without added stress and fear over disruption or intimidation. By protecting essential infrastructure, we are protecting and strengthening access to public health care.”Jason Copping, Minister of Health

Quick facts

  • The regulation is expected to come into force soon, with the exact date to be known within the coming days.
  • The Critical Infrastructure Defence Act covers both publicly and privately owned infrastructure, such as:
    • pipelines and related infrastructure
    • oil and gas production and refinery sites
    • highways
    • railways
    • utilities (electric, gas and water)
    • telecommunication lines, towers and equipment
    • mines
  • Hospitals and health facilities are being added to the list through this regulation.
  • The act protects essential infrastructure from trespassing, interference with operations and damage, which could result in significant public safety, social, economic and environmental consequences.
  • Penalties consist of:
    • For individuals, a minimum fine of $1,000 and up to $10,000 and $25,000 for first and subsequent offences respectively or a term of imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
    • For corporations, a minimum fine of $10,000 and up to $200,000.
  • The Critical Infrastructure Defence Act includes a regulation-making power to expand the definition of infrastructure, if necessary.

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