Stop letting out-of-province workers into Northern Health region

Dear Health Minister Adrian Dix, Premier John Horgan and Dr. Bonnie Henry:

Thank you to all of the hard work you all have done over the past year to keep us safe during this pandemic. Here in Northern B.C., we are grateful and thankful for all the behind-the-scenes effort you have done to keep us safe. At this point, we are hopeful that vaccines are around the corner yet unfortunately we are not out of the woods. 

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Recent dramatic increases of COVID-19 cases in our region at industrial work camps such as the BruceJack Mine site need your immediate attention. According to the March 9 edition of the Terrace Standard: "There is now a single case in isolation and one person has died in association with the COVID-19 outbreak at Pretivm Resources’ Brucejack Mine, according to a Northern Health information bulletin. In total, there have been 51 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in connection with the outbreak."

The outbreak was first declared on Feb. 11. Both the health authority and Pretivm Resources had been monitoring a cluster of cases since early February and implementing measures to control transmission at the mine, which hosts around 500 employees at a time and is located north of Stewart." 

Having an outbreak at a remote work camp in our region is an item of grave concern. Here in Northwest B.C., we have a very high incidence of COVID-19 that is pushing Northern Health in our Northwest region to the breaking point. The COVID-19 variant is not yet here in the Northwest, but that is only a matter of time. Recently the Terrace area received additional ambulance workers to help manage the emergency call load. While we appreciate the assistance, we want to call attention to the high increase of out-of- province workers in the Northwest region. We live here, this is our home and we believe that our future and welfare is being placed at risk. 

A unique decision was made to vaccinate the entire community of Prince Rupert and Port Edward. We are gratefully for giving this attention to two of our sister communities. Yet we ask that common sense prevail and that B.C. stop allowing out-of-province workers into this health region. 

We do not need extra out-of-province workers bringing COVID-19 and accelerated COVID-19 variants into our region and further exacerbating a crisis situation. Show the necessary leadership and demonstrate that you care about the health and welfare of people living in Northwest B.C. and simply curtail all out-of-province workers until the situation is under control. 

We in Northern B.C. have limited hospital capacity, a general population that is the most medically vulnerable in the province, doctor and nurse shortages throughout the region plus the longest distances between larger more equipped hospitals in the entire province. 

We ask your government to do the right and responsible thing and protect the health of Northern B.C. residents.

Charles Claus

Terrace

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