B.C. Premier John Horgan
Dec 13, 2021
Request for comprehensive review of BC policies related to COVID-19
Dear Premier Horgan:
As a three-term elected Kamloops Councillor, I am deeply distressed with the management of the COVID-related health-care crisis in British Columbia, and more specifically with the very tangible direct negative impacts on Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital and the people of the Kamloops area who so greatly depend on its proper management and functioning.
Our hospital in Kamloops is truly immersed in deep crisis, as you know, and there is no denying that the very harsh and unneeded vaccine-mandate layoffs – estimated to be close to 800 health-care workers in the Interior Health region alone – has exacerbated the already short-staffed situation tremendously. Simply providing employees the alternative of frequent rapid testing could have avoided such catastrophic action and still provided a high level of safety, perhaps even higher.
I note that in Ontario and Quebec, they have put health care first by recognizing how critical it is to maintain proper staffing levels and backing off of their earlier-planned vaccine-mandate layoffs. I also note that frequent rapid test kits are widely available – sometimes free – in many other Canadian provinces.
This is how its working in the U.K.: “Business groups said that, along with the vaccines, mass, rapid testing has been a game-changer in allowing Britain to open up” according to a recent Reuters news article, while a different American article reports that “At-home COVID tests are a free, easy part of everyday life in the U.K., and the U.S. has taken note. The kits contain rapid antigen tests, which can identify about 98% of infectious COVID-19 cases. With similar programs rolled out elsewhere in Europe, they have helped to slow the spread of the virus right across the continent.” At-home COVID tests are a free, easy part of everyday life in the U.K., and the U.S. has taken note – CBS News
Premier Horgan, there is no good reason B.C. couldn’t adopt such a policy and safely put health-care employees and other workers back to work. It would allow a much safer situation for health-care workers than the status quo of uncertainty associated with relying on vaccinations, which are not even close to 100% effective and also do not in any way guarantee that a fully-vaccinated individual will not unknowingly be carrying and transmitting a COVID infection to others.
It is deeply concerning that online purchasing is the only way the general public in B.C. can access rapid antigen testing at this time. Several other advocates have recently called on the province to make rapid tests free and accessible for all. B.C. has clearly missed the boat on this important strategy. Advocates call on the province to make rapid tests free and accessible for all | CBC News
I earlier communicated some of my concerns and questions about rigid B.C. Public Health vaccine-mandate policies – including adopting the same alternative of free rapid testing for health-care employees that we have in Kamloops for city employees – to the Health Minister and to the Provincial Public Health Officer. You can find this Nov. 9 letter pasted just below and also attached.
As an elected official who represents thousands of constituents and who is speaking on behalf of many thousands of voiceless vaccine-mandate victims across the province, I am sorry to have to tell you that I have not even been given the courtesy of a reply by Min. Dix or Dr. Henry.
This unwillingness to speak to serious and timely questions has only added to my growing concern that these responsible officials have a singular unrealistic focus of 100% vaccination in managing the COVID crisis in BC, and that the situation now cries out for a comprehensive re-examination of all B.C. COVID-related policies past and present, perhaps even for new managers.
These officials seem to have lost the traditional public-health balanced approach of education and persuasion and are wanting to turn the vaccination tool into a weapon from which there is no escape – while at the same time turning a cold shoulder to other proven innovations that could be very helpful.
It’s clear that the current policy of demonizing and shunning those who are not in agreement with arbitrary vaccination mandates is creating ever-greater distrust of government and very deep polarization, literally initiating a disintegration of our once relatively unified society. Vaccinations are no longer being used properly as a tool in B.C., but have rather become a weapon of division under this current leadership.
I wish to note for the record the increasingly strong public rejections of B.C. vaccine mandates by some of our finest and most responsible citizens, namely teachers’ groups, chiropractors and the Vancouver Police, as well as the several very passionate protest rallies with thousands of ordinary citizens who would prefer to be at home minding their own business.
Do you not realize there is a problem here?
We in B.C. were once assured that when 60 to 70 percent of the population was vaccinated, “herd immunity” would be achieved and we would get to a “finish line that is in sight.” We have fully surpassed those numbers, but now we are told to instead get used to “never-ending uncertainty” and to “remember to do some deep breathing…listen to music. Meditate. Bake cookies for neighbours or friends.” This strategy emanating from our top public health official!
I’m sorry Premier, but this vision does not inspire confidence that our responsible officials are up to getting the job done: Seriously…. “bake cookies?”
While the intentions to minimize harm from Covid may be good, it is time to acknowledge that this is a learning process for all of us, and to many in this province it is obvious that B.C. government officials have stopped learning, stopped looking and listening and have gotten locked into outdated Covid public health concepts that need to be seriously re-examined with an eye toward more creative and compassionate approaches based on latest data and proven innovations.
Every aspect needs to be looked at again, including input from independent objective experts, to see if B.C. is operating from best current science and real-world medical experience, and relevant human rights principles, rather than from a rigid politically correct philosophy that is not open to improvement. My own research and that of many others indicates that there is much in B.C.’s approach that can be improved upon, and I would certainly be pleased to elaborate even more upon your request.
We in B.C. have no idea as to what is the threshold for ending mandatory vaccine passports and future lockdowns, allowing a return to ordinary life in this province, and we are left to wonder if it is a hidden intention that vaccine passports will be permanent policy for B.C. now?
Let us remember that B.C. human rights law directly speaks against political vaccination mandates without a priority consideration for human rights. The B.C. Human Rights Commissioner has stated that any vaccine mandate must be “necessary due to a lack of less-intrusive alternatives: vaccine policies should be a last resort, relied on only if other methods — such as social distancing, implementing work from home policies, and wearing masks — are ineffective.” We now know, of course, that ‘frequent rapid testing’ must be added to that list of options.
When it comes to vaccine passports and lockdowns, why does B.C. not have a Restrictions Exemption Act like Alberta? Do our health authorities wish to punish citizens who have chosen (for whatever reason) to not be vaccinated at this time, by taking away many of their freedoms, virtually criminalizing them?
Next door in Alberta, businesses participating in the successful Restrictions Exemption Program can operate as usual if they require patrons 12 years and over to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result. This is done with the support of the Alberta Chamber of Commerce and has been very well received on the ground.
Why is there no educational campaign on proactive self care to reduce risk of becoming infected with COVID, such as increased Vitamin D supplementation. Studies are showing a strong immune system will have less severe illness if contracting the virus and less risk of hospitalization. And to date there has been no comprehensive guidance on early medical treatment options available for B.C. general practitioners to bring into play and lessen the risk of hospitalization. Sadly, to date the only recommended treatment in B.C. is hospitalization or death. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9h-XQm2qEY (Doctor report on use of Vitamin D in Israel))
I am quite confident in asserting that B.C. is clearly out of step with the latest science and is lagging behind on implementing innovations proven in real-world experiences that could substantially improve our well-being and safety in B.C. Our public health officials are truly floundering, and apparently not considering data from the latest studies and innovations coming from other jurisdictions at this point.
I am therefore now appealing to you as the Premier to direct the health minister to initiate an immediate comprehensive review of all past and present COVID-19 public health policies, to include presentations and evidence from qualified experts outside of BC Health Ministry – and to have transparency in the process in order to restore public confidence.
These are all obviously hard questions, Premier, but ones that need to be asked at the highest levels if B.C. is to ever get to a best-place scenario in the battle against COVID-19 – which we all desire. I look forward to your early response.
COUNCILLOR DENIS WALSH