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“May we see the data?”

May 12, 2022 

Response to the BC Premier and Minister of Labour’s statement on lives “needlessly cut short” by “work-related illnesses or injuries”

In many places in BC, on April 28, flags were flown at half-mast in response to the national Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace. Also referred to as the National Day of Mourning, it has been observed in Canada on April 28 since 1991

On April 28, 2022, BC Premier John Horgan and Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, released a statement that “we remember and honour these workers and all those whose lives have been needlessly cut short over the past years.”

This is a nice thing to say- but how are workers being honoured when the very right to safety in the workplace is being jeopardized because of inaccurate or incomplete information coming from a public health authority?

The provincial government’s statement revealed that in 2021, of the people who passed away due to “work-related illnesses or injuries” in BC, 46 were those “who succumbed to other diseases, including COVID-19”.

We agree with Horgan and Bains that “we must”, as they say, “do better” but, in remembering the “lives lost or forever altered by workplace injury or illness” we ask: May the public see the data on this?

April has come and gone, as have the ceremonies, flags at half-mast, and nice words. April is over. May is here.

May we see the data?

If not, why not?

How can we “remember and honour” workers who died because of COVID in the workplace without knowing who they are, or even how many of them have passed away? How can we make sure their deaths were not in vain and that other workers will not suffer in the same way?

The truth is, we don’t know how many people have died or become disabled due to contracting COVID in their workplaces. Words are nice, but if there is a real commitment to “making B.C.’s workplaces the safest in the country,” then why are workers getting in trouble for raising safety concerns?

We see that there are growing numbers of Long COVID clinics in this province, so there must be growing numbers of cases. But we don’t know how many Long COVID cases there are in this province or how many BC workers have been impacted. Ferry workers, public transit employees, teachers, health care workers, workers in any field; how many workers have Long COVID, and how does the risk to workers compare across industries?

Labour laws require that employers do all they can to protect workers from deadly or debilitating poisons or pathogens in the workplace. But we see very little evidence that this law is still in effect in BC, with all public-facing workers now at substantially increased risk of illness, disability and death due to the ending of mask protections in the public spaces they work in.

Without access to any data to assess our risks in various working environments, it’s impossible for most BC employees to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing, and difficult for COVID-disabled workers to demand from their employers the accommodations they are entitled to under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

So we ask: May we see the data?

And, if not, why not?

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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

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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