B.C. Greens respond to new health protocols for respiratory illness season

September 28, 2023

VICTORIA B.C. –B.C. Green leader Sonia Furstenau and deputy leader Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi released the following statements in response to the province’s strategy to combat the fall respiratory illness season:

Sonia Furstenau, leader

“In healthcare settings, people should expect utmost protection for all—patients, healthcare workers, and staff. Reintroducing masks in response to rising cases, hospitalizations, and deaths exemplifies a reactive, not proactive, approach to healthcare in B.C. 

“Applying the same principle that masks in hospitals protect patients and workers, the government can exhibit strong leadership by mitigating risk in schools and public buildings with evidence-based measures, such as superior filtration and ventilation systems.

“This government must make their decision-making processes clear and transparent.”

Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi, deputy leader

“The announcements today from BC Public health and the Ministry of Health were woefully late and inadequate.

“The directive to hospital staff was ‘Patients, clients, and residents will mask when directed by a healthcare worker or based on personal choice…’, effective October 3, 2023.  The respiratory viral season is already upon us. Hospitals are seeing increased numbers of patients (beds have been over capacity for weeks), there are increased admissions, and even increased deaths. There is no reason to further delay a universal healthcare mask mandate for everyone entering a healthcare facility and healthcare workers should not be tasked with enforcing protective measures. A partial mandate will not protect vulnerable hospitalized patients. 

“The continued abandonment of routine testing for viral illnesses, including COVID, is a major omission. Tracking the incidence and prevalence of respiratory pathogens is a crucial element to public health, permits targeted protective measures, and guides targeted treatment strategies.  

“Again, there was no acknowledgment that these respiratory illnesses are transmitted via airborne routes. One of the most important measures to prevent transmission of airborne illness is to maintain high indoor air quality, which necessitates measuring and improving air quality. Air quality standards have been explicitly outlined by ASHRAE Standard 241. Indoor air quality guidelines and expectations must form the foundation of any public health discussion related to respiratory pathogens.”

“Accessibility to vaccinations should be much easier. The uptake of vaccinations last year was abysmal, especially for children, and skepticism for vaccines has only increased. Vaccines should be rolled out in schools and barriers to obtaining vaccinations in the community should be removed. The invitation system is cumbersome and unnecessary.


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