VANCOUVER, B.C. – Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley, is calling on the BC NDP government to improve the public health response to the current situation in BC’s pediatric wards.
“It is not clear what this government’s goals are when it comes to addressing the situation in children’s hospitals right now. In the past, ensuring hospitals were not overwhelmed was a clearly stated objective, but currently there is no direction about what we are trying to achieve.
“Vaccination is one tool but not the whole kit for protecting our communities and hospitals from mass infection. As Dr. Henry said, we can blunt the peak of illness but it needs to be done with a comprehensive approach, of which vaccination is just one part. Ventilation, masks, distancing - these can help reduce risk of transmission but have received little investment by this government.
“High numbers of children and teachers are missing school because they are sick, children’s wards and ERs are overwhelmed, and operations for children and infants are being cancelled. The government needs to educate the public on how the virus is transmitted, the risk of death and long-term health from COVID and other viruses, the cost of mass infection on our healthcare system, and the risk the pressure of these illnesses is placing on hospitals, particularly children’s wards.
“Instead, just as the viruses were beginning to spread, this government quietly removed isolation requirements for people with COVID-19, reduced testing and reporting, and has given inadequate guidance on masking.
“Parents are forced to rely on anecdotal accounts of the levels of absences at schools, while both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education make it clear that they have no intention of sharing information about absentee rates, as is the practice in Alberta.
“The independent review of BC’s pandemic response released on Friday points out that this government's repeated failures to communicate public health guidance left British Columbians distrustful and uncooperative with measures. This province needs strong and persistent messaging that highlights that COVID spreads in the air and that masks help reduce that spread.
“While children’s hospitals and wards are overwhelmed, we need the BC NDP to encourage wearing masks, and mandate it in high-risk public settings like classrooms, on transit, and in grocery stores. We need the BC NDP to require testing for illness in our hospitals, and publicly report that data, alongside the number of children absent from school.”
“In BC, similar to the rest of Canada, we are experiencing a tidal wave of respiratory viral infections, endangering the most vulnerable in our population - our children,” said Dr Sanjiv Gandhi, Pediatric Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, B.C. Children’s Hospital. “The magnitude of this crisis is intensified by an already strained healthcare system and a fallacy that the pandemic and its consequences are problems of the past. Basic public health measures (prevention, testing, and isolation) have been eliminated. We have all the tools to change the trajectory of this horrible situation. The only missing ingredient is courage from our leaders to be transparent to the public about the current situation and mandate the changes that are necessary to prevent more illness and death.”
A/ Press Secretary
B.C. Green Caucus
+1 250-882-6187 | [email protected]