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15 hospital leaders sign letter denouncing Mount Sinai demonstrations in Toronto

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More than a dozen hospital leaders have signed a letter denouncing demonstrations and trespassing on hospital property at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital Monday night.

The letter was sent to hospital staff by the Toronto Academic Health Science Network on Feb. 13. It was signed by 15 hospital presidents and Chief Executive Officers.

Sinai Health’s Garry Newton, University Health Network’s Kevin Smith, Unity Health Toronto’s Tim Rutledge, Sunnybrook’s Andy Smith, Hospital for Sick Children's Ronald Cohn, and ten others signed the internal note.

In it, the leaders said they were disturbed by the events, which included participants climbing on hospital scaffolding during a demonstration on University Avenue, and are working with local law enforcement and security teams to keep their spaces safe.

Several of the groups responsible for the protest are accusing politicians, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, of misrepresenting the events.

Gur Tsabar, an Israeli-Canadian organizer with Toronto4Palestine, told CTV News the hospital wasn’t targeted and happened to be along a regular rally route that the organization has marched at least 40 times since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, adding that protesters jump on scaffolding anywhere along the way.

"Everyone who attended the protest was concerned about one thing and one thing only, and that’s the 1.4 million Gazans that are trapped in Rafah,” Tsabar told CTV News in an interview on Wednesday.

The Toronto police confirmed a day earlier that an investigation is underway and an increased police presence will be visible on hospital row. 

“This protest ran the real risk of disrupting hospital operations and compromising the safety of staff, physicians, learners, patients and visitors – all totally unacceptable,” the letter stated.

A still image taken from a video circulating on social media that appears to show a participants climbing hospital scaffolding at Mount Sinai Hospital on Feb. 14, 2024.The message went on to assert the Toronto hospitals' dedication to accessible and safe care for everyone regardless of religious faith, race, gender or sexual orientation.

“As leaders we will not tolerate hatred in any form to permeate our hospitals,” the letter states. “We unequivocally denounce this display of antisemitism and all forms of racism.”

Joining the prime minister and premier in commenting on the incident, four-time Olympic gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser called Sinai a “special place” where she worked and trained as a physician, in a statement late Tuesday night.

“The images of last night were terrible to see. Walk into the ED any time and you will bear witness to staff of every race, religion and walk of life providing world class care to the same,” Wickenheiser wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

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