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Citizens protest the emergency room closures in Merritt, British Columbia.CFJC screenshot

MERRITT, British Columbia (LifeSiteNews) – Facing pressures of repeated emergency room closures at a local hospital, the mayor of the small Canadian city of Merritt, British Columbia has demanded his province hire back healthcare workers who were let go because they did not get the COVID shots.

Mayor Mike Goetz recently made a request to British Columbia’s Interior Health to get rid of a COVID jab mandate still in place for healthcare workers who were placed on leave or fired.

As per a CFJC news report, Goetz said that Nicola Valley Hospital and Health Centre “years ago” was a “fully functional hospital.”

“All 40 beds were out. We had surgeons, we had babies born here. This is not a magical situation. It’s happened before and it needs to be returned to that,” Goetz noted.

Residents of the Nicola Valley area have been protesting what is now the 10th closure of their emergency department.

When the city’s local ER is closed, people are forced to make a drive to the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops or Kelowna General Hospital, which are both over an hour away.

This scenario, said local resident Georgia Clement, who is an organizer of the protests, shows that Interior Health has been putting it politics ahead of the safety of people.

“People here are in danger,” she said.

“(Interior Health) is making decisions and they’re playing with our lives. They’re playing politics with our lives — literally.”

Another protester said that her father died because he was sent home from the hospital early, as it was closing early due to the staffing shortage.

“The hospital was closing in two hours,” Melanie Griffiths said.

“They sent him on his way home. Last thing I remember my dad saying was, ‘I’m scared.’ But he passed away in the night.”

British Columbia remains one of the last provinces in Canada where local health authorities still have in place mandates that their workers have COVID shots.

Some doctors in the province, such as Dr. Charles Hoffe and Dr. Stephen Malthouse, have been fighting back against the mandates and bringing to light concerns over the safety of the COVID shots.

But the province’s NDP government recently put in place a law that could mandate COVID shots as a condition of work.

Late last year, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) sounded the alarm over the new bill from the NDP government, which would mandate COVID shots for healthcare workers.

“The passage of Bill 36 would enable the health minister to impose a COVID vaccine as a condition of licensing on all health practitioners in the province,” the JCCF said.

Despite concerns from legal groups, Bill C-36 was passed into law on November 24, 2022.

Prominent Canadian pro-life and pro-family group Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) blasted the passage of Bill C-36, saying it “creates sweeping changes that will politicize the entire provincial healthcare system.”

CLC noted that the law could target pro-life healthcare workers as well.