Margaret Atwood Backs Petition Calling on Government to Protect Health-Care Workers

atwood ppe

Acclaimed Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood is endorsing an online petition calling on government to provide emergency protective gear for frontline health workers. Photo: Bryan Adams

Margaret Atwood is adding her illustrious voice to an online petition calling for the federal government to step up their efforts to protect our front-line health-care workers against COVID-19.

Atwood, 80, who continues to build her prolific literary legacy while maintaining a robust social media presence, endorsed the petition in a March 29 Tweet to her 1.9 million followers.

The petition was launched two weeks ago by Melissa Yuan-Innes, an emergency doctor from South Glengarry, a small township in eastern Ontario.

Co-signed by more than 60 doctors, the petition calls on the federal government to take immediate steps to overcome the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) that our front-line health-care workers desperately need during the COVID-19 crisis. This lack of supplies “is unacceptably dangerous for health-care workers and, in turn, the public,” the petition says.

Government must step-up efforts

This list of PPE immediately needed includes: N95 masks, surgical masks, gloves and gowns, hoods, face shields and goggles as well as COVID-19 test kits, ventilators, hand sanitizer and medications that might treat COVID-19 patients.

The petition asks the federal government to “mount a war-like effort” to overcome the shortage of medical equipment needed to battle COVID-19. It’s asking the government to:

  • repurpose factories to manufacture PPE items
  • call on individuals to donate any sealed PPE items they may have stockpiled
  • research how we can reuse existing stock more safely
  • use out-dated or expired PPE
  • buy any possible stock from China
  • expand testing capabilities and treatment facilities
  • repurpose distilleries to manufacture hand sanitizer
  • manufacture chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and anti-virals that could potentially treat COVID-19 patients

The comments section of the petition was flooded with support – from front-line health-care workers and their families to concerned Canadians – citing reasons why they’re supporting this desperate call for the protective equipment. Included in the thousands of comments were these poignant calls to action:

  • “I’m a pharmacist that doesn’t even have one mask.”
  • “I’m a home-care nurse working with the most vulnerable. I run into the flames while others are running away.”
  • “I have cancer and must be in hospital for surgery! Scary to think our HC workers don’t have proper equipment!”
  • “We need to protect the people protecting us.”
  • “They are risking their lives for us. We applaud them.”

With close to 170,000 Canadians joining Atwood on the list, many are also responding with donations to help advance the cause. You can sign the petition here.