Threats against Dr. Bonnie Henry 'unacceptable,' B.C. health minister says
Provincial health officers says she worries about how abuse affects family and friends
As the pandemic wears on and threats against provincial officials have shown no signs of stopping, B.C.'s provincial health officer says she's disturbed about how that impacts her family and coworkers.
In her daily briefing on Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed the abuse she's faced over the last year, which has at times escalated to death threats.
"It really is not acceptable," she said.
"What I find most disturbing is how it impacts the people I work with and my family and my close contacts and their concerns, so that's the most challenging piece right now."
Henry said public health officers across the country have dealt with similar issues, and they regularly speak about it with each other to offer support.
"I recognize that when people are in crises, part of the way they respond or react is to lash out or be angry," she said.
Watch: Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the threats she's received
Health Minister Adrian Dix described the threats as "unacceptable," saying that regardless of the criticism she's faced, Henry continues to show compassion for everyone during this health crisis.
Heidi Tworek, a history professor at the University of B.C. who has studied abuse directed at public figures, points out that Henry has taken on a uniquely prominent role during the pandemic.
"She's both telling us what the health guidelines are and the meaning behind the crisis," Tworek said.
"Of course, it's likelier to make her the target of abuse because she really is the face of B.C.'s COVID-19 response."
With files from Joel Ballard