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Calgary’s front-line health workers rally for tougher gun laws

Global News logo Global News 2019-04-03 Jill Croteau
a group of people standing next to a tree: Health-care workers outside Calgary's Foothills Hospital gather for a gun control rally. © Jill Croteau/ Global News Health-care workers outside Calgary's Foothills Hospital gather for a gun control rally.

A handful of people gathered outside Calgary's Foothills Hospital over the noon hour on Wednesday to rally for tougher gun laws.

The rally happened on the same day two people were shot to death in a parking lot in the northeast part of the city. The men died after a vehicle was sprayed by bullets early Wednesday morning.

Front-line health-care workers said that's timely evidence to call for stricter laws on guns.

Dr. John Kortbeek, a trauma surgeon and critical care physician with Alberta Health Services, said it's time to speak out.

"The cure for this disease is prevention," Kortbeek said.

"We understand shotguns are part of Canadian landscape and culture, and tools used by farmers and ranchers and hunters. But we are troubled by the increasing use of handgun violence and increasing rates of homicides."

Dr. Josh Ng-Kamstra, a critical care fellow, joined the protesters in hopes of convincing federal politicians to impose stricter regulations.

READ MORE: Quebec gun-control activists push for federal firearms bill

"I've been witness to countless nights in the ER where a victim rolls through the doors with bullet injuries to his chest and abdomen, and sometimes we are able to save them," he said. "I've also been involved in resuscitations where unfortunately, we are not.

"That is the motivation for standing up to [push for] public policy that protects Canadians from having similar outcomes."

Other health-care workers joined the gathering to support their colleagues. Dr. Kirsten Fiest. an epidemiologist with AHS, said she didn't want to stand idly by and wanted her voice to be heard.

"Women and girls are disproportionately affected by gun violence in our country and one-third of killings of women and girls in Canada in 2018 were the result of a firearm, and it's those types of impactful facts that move me to want to see a change," she said.

Calgary's physicians and nurses joined health-care employees in 13 other cities across the country on Wednesday for a "national day of action."

They said being first-hand witnesses to the emotional and physical trauma caused by guns compelled them to join the protest.

READ MORE: Quebec City mosque gunman Alexandre Bissonnette appeals sentence

Wednesday's event was organized by the group Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns. The grassroots group is urging the federal government to pass Bill C-71, which would initiate a handgun and assault weapons ban, increase background checks for gun owners and provide enhanced restrictions on transporting a gun.

Members of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFC)said the organized rallies are misguided and don't address the root causes of crime. The CCFC's Tracey Wilson said she felt these health-care workers aren't focusing on the issues.

"If they were out there demanding the government do real credible work on violence and crime, we would be right there beside them," she said.

"I know there's a desperate need to feel like you've done something, but all you're doing is targeting the very people who are not committing the crimes that you're worried about."


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