VICTORIA, B.C. – In response to the province announcing an end to the use of the provincial mask mandate tomorrow and the B.C. vaccine card in April, Sonia Furstenau, leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley, has issued the following statement:
“It has been a long two years for British Columbians. Many people are eager for the pandemic to be over, and others are still anxious about opening up. I am deeply concerned that without a plan for the future and clear information on why we’re making decisions, removing these measures will create more confusion, allow for greater transmission of COVID, and risk distrust in government.
“Learning to live with this virus should not mean pretending it is over; it should mean that we keep simple, universal basic protections in places where they keep us safe and provide a predictable plan that we can work towards and anticipate. We should be providing free N95 masks to all who want one, installing filtration in schools and public settings, subsidizing HEPA filters for other settings, and making rapid tests widely and freely available. We should be protecting everyone from the risk of long-COVID.
“Removing masking entirely sends a signal that the pandemic is over. Yesterday we had 14 deaths, a new variant is circulating around the world, and many epidemiologists and our provincial health officer have suggested we could see a fifth wave this year. We should have kept masks in place for essential services like public transit and other high-transmission settings with low ventilation. This would protect our most vulnerable - young children, the immunocompromised, the elderly - in essential places, while opening up elective activities for people who are comfortable.
“It is critical that this government clearly explain what benchmarks they’re using to determine our provincial response, and show how they’re preparing for the long term. We have over 90% vaccination rate in our province, one of the highest jurisdictions in the world, and there is no clear understanding as to why the passport is still required. British Columbians deserve the same predictability and clarity they received last summer with the re-opening plan. Without a plan and tools in place, we risk repeating the damaging cycle of imposing and removing mandates.
“Rebuilding and maintaining trust should be this government’s top priority. This government’s lack of transparency over the past year and failure to explain their decisions has resulted in an erosion of our collective sense of responsibility to each other. Without clear guidelines for imposing or rescinding mandates, British Columbians will only grow more disenfranchised.”
B.C. Green Caucus
+1 250-882-6187 | [email protected]