open letter thumbnail

Want to keep track of our work? Sign up for PoP BC updates, actions, public health information, and announcements.

An Open Letter from Protect Our Province BC to BC Health Minister Adrian Dix and BC Chief Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry:

The perfect storm is upon us. The BC healthcare system is still struggling with Delta. Many healthcare workers have quit. Those who remain are burnt out. For the public, pandemic fatigue has set in, with long-awaited, deeply yearned-for events and social gatherings planned for the holidays.

In comes the Grinch—a new variant that spreads so easily that it managed to replace Delta in South Africa in only two weeks. A ravenous beast of a virus that had already spread to eighty-nine countries, including Canada, before the ink was dry on new travel restrictions arbitrarily imposed on various African countries.

To make matters worse, emerging studies show that Omicron is evading immunity. Many breakthrough infections are occurring in double vaccinated individuals. 

In other words, the vast majority of people in BC are now vulnerable to infection with Omicron. This spells disaster for our healthcare system.

A wave of Omicron infections is coming to BC that will unravel our battered healthcare system, traumatize its workers, and infect many more people than we’ve ever seen before. Omicron will ruthlessly expose and break any weak links in our pandemic response, however vividly rose-tinted the glasses of our public health officials might be.

We urgently need to expand our hospital capacity. This is about so much more than just ”beds”. Hospitals rarely run out of furniture, but the people who keep the health care system running smoothly are in limited supply, highly specialized, and not easily replaced. BC health workers were already reporting staffing shortages, burn-out, and exhaustion before Omicron arrived. Now, after all they’ve been through, their numbers will soon be further reduced by the need to isolate due to infection.

What’s BC’s plan to support health workers and pick up the slack? As Premier Horgan’s government doesn’t appear to have one, we can offer some recommendations.

  • BC needs a circuit breaker. Those who are able to stay at home should do so until third doses, N95s, and rapid self-test kits have been distributed across the province.
  • Health care workers in BC must be prioritized for third doses, and provided with N95s or the equivalent, as they are in Ontario.
  • The public must have equitable access to high quality masks to protect themselves against airborne transmission. These should be made mandatory to enter any public building, and offered for free at the door.
  • All Covid Public Health Safety Protocols must be updated to address aerosol transmission, especially in Long Term Care facilities, hospitals and schools.

Omicron moves faster than any virus we’ve ever seen. If the BC government continues to take a “wait and see” approach, it will inevitably result in a “too little, too late” public health strategy. So how can BC residents help to reduce the strain on the healthcare system?

  • BC residents should do everything they can to stay safe until a third dose of the vaccine is made available to all. 
  • We need to improve the effectiveness of our masks. Cloth masks and “baggy blues” were never enough. Wear an N95 or equivalent mask indoors in public spaces.
  • Wherever possible, work from home and avoid social gatherings right now. Contacts and time spent indoors in public buildings should be limited.
  • Anyone who is sick MUST stay home, and employers MUST support self-isolating workers, both financially and in their workplace culture.

SARS CoV-2 is spread through the air we share, and limiting our exposure is now more important than ever. But unlike in March 2020, we know what to do and how to stay safe. 

BC Public Health’s unwillingness to act quickly and effectively in the face of Omicron will lead to exponential growth in hospital admissions, even if its symptoms turn out to be much less severe.

This government must be more proactive, and all of us must do everything we can to protect the healthcare system and its exhausted workers until effective measures are finally implemented in BC. Let’s put the public back into Public Health. Our healthcare workers can’t do this alone.

Share this:

Archived Briefings from Protect Our Province BC

Title image for briefing April 20 - COVID in the House: Protect Your Loved Ones
Wednesday, April 27th from 12:00-1:00 PDT What should you do if someone in your house tests positive for COVID-19? How do we prevent it from passing to loved ones in the household? Why should we care? Data is emerging that, due to variant mutations, COVID-19 reinfections are happening, even in highly-vaccinated countries. For that reason,… Continue reading COVID-19 in the House: How to Protect Your Loved Ones
Title image for Briefing 14 April 7, 2022 - COVID Doesn't Take Breaks, Neither Can We
Thursday, April 7 at 12:00 noon PDT Ignoring the 6th wave won’t stop it. What does the evidence say? Join Dr. Lyne Filiatrault, Dr. Brenda Hardie, and Gosia Gasperowicz, PhD, as they discuss what BC needs to do to lower community transmission as the most infectious strain of COVID ever becomes dominant across the globe.… Continue reading COVID-19 Doesn’t Take Breaks. Neither Can We.
Title image for Briefing 13: Ethics in Canada, March 23, 2022
Wednesday, March 23rd, 12:30-1:30 pm PT Join Canadian researcher and author Jon Parsons in a discussion with Protect our Province BC member Dr. Amy Tan about how Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic amounts to a failure of ethical action.  The pandemic has brought issues with Canada’s governing systems and cultural identity into full view:… Continue reading Lack of Ethics: How Canada is Failing with COVID-19

More News from Protect Our Province BC

Post title - reinstate masks in public spaces
Protect Our Province BC, Safe Schools Coalition BC and BC School COVID Tracker are coming together to ask for mask protection in indoor public spaces, businesses, schools and on public transit in BC. The removal of BC’s mandated health protections has us concerned for the health and well-being of all British Columbians. “Now that masking… Continue reading Protect Our Province BC, Safe Schools Coalition BC and BC School COVID Tracker Issue Joint Press Release
translink masking open meeting title image
On March 11th, the British Columbia Public Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry lifted the indoor mask mandate for most public places, with the main exception being healthcare settings.  TransLink immediately followed suit and lifted its own mask requirement, leaving commuters on  buses and trains with very few COVID-19 precautions. Unlike BC, Ontario and Quebec have… Continue reading Transit Users Ask Translink to Keep Mask Protections in Place.
Title image for blog April 2 - N95 masks and transmission
Share this: April 2, 2022  A Guest Post by Tim Henthorne, B.A.Sc., P. Eng Over the past two years, we have been flooded with opinions regarding the wearing of masks, all while trying to learn how to deal with the existential threat of COVID-19. Unfortunately, much confusion has come from Public Health itself with its… Continue reading N95 Masks & the Transmission of COVID-19