OTTAWA -- After three waves of COVID-19, hospital workers say the number of patients isn’t the only contributor to a growing sense of burnout.

“It’s hard not to feel a little defeated after the year and a half we’ve been through. It gets a little frustrating when people are getting sick with something that’s more preventable than it was in the first wave,” Alison MacIvor, an ICU nurse at the Civic

MacIvor says dealing with anti-vaccine sentiments is growing tiresome for healthcare workers.

“A lot of people have been expressing their distress with people who are denying what’s going on and it’s like, you’ve got a patient in the bed who’s sick with COVID and they're still denying it. It’s hard not to get angry and get frustrated with them and still take good care of them like we know we want to do,” she added.

There are protests planned in front of hospitals across the country on Monday.

The group allegedly organizing the protests, Canadian Frontline Nurses, issued posts on social media calling for peaceful protests against mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers.

MacIvor says seeing other healthcare workers organizing these demonstrations is particularly demoralizing.

“A lot of people are really frustrated with it, especially when it is healthcare workers who are denying what is going on, especially when they’re telling us what we’ve seen and what we’ve experienced isn’t true,” she noted.

Vikki Leung, a Toronto-based emergency room nurse, has launched a petition calling for the creation of safe-zones around hospitals; barring the protesters and ensuring unrestricted access to healthcare for patients.

“If you want to protest, go outside Queen’s Park. You’re trying to make a political statement; don’t harm people while you’re doing that. It’s so much moral distress and injury to the healthcare workers and it’s just unsafe from a healthcare perspective,” Leung said.

Leung, who is currently on maternity-leave, says after working through the first three waves of COVID-19, she’s been quite upset at the fervour directed towards some healthcare workers.

“It’s almost soul breaking; I’ve definitely cried about it a few times. Hearing about what my colleagues are going through, someone told me that they were assaulted just driving into work by a protester who was anti-vaccine,” Leung said.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted in opposition to the planned protests saying “our health-care heroes do not deserve to be intimidated.”

“I wish on a systemic level that something could be done about this, to educate these people, get vaccinated, and not impeded other people’s access to healthcare and certainly not harass or bully healthcare providers who are just trying to provide care and just look after each other in the safest way possible,” Leung said.