The Nova Scotia Government announced Thursday plans for new legislation that will ban protests within 50 metres of health-care facilities and pharmacies.
The Protecting Access to Health Services Act will prohibit protests at health-care facilities, as well as homes of patients who receive health-care services at home.
The legislation will establish a 50-metre safe-access bubble zone around hospitals, mental-health, home-care and long-term care services, clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies.
Peaceful protests are permitted outside the 50-metre perimeter.
Other provinces have already introduced similar legislation.
“Nova Scotians have the right to access healthcare without fear for their health and safety. This includes patients and their families,” N.S. Premier Tim Houston, said in a release.
“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 province says the new legislation will strike a balance between the rights to protest and free expression and the right of patients to access health care.
Penalties will be similar to the Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Act, which bans protests at abortion clinics.
The new legislation will come into effect upon Royal Assent and is not tied to the province’s state of emergency status.