B.C. healthcare workers put province and feds on blast

Nurses call for action

Front line British Columbia nurses have put the provincial and federal governments on blast for what they call the slow and alarming response to COVID-19 in British Columbia.

In an open letter addressed to Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed by more than 120 nurses from across B.C., including from Kelowna and Vernon, the nurses express “alarm at the insufficient and slow response of the federal and provincial governments to the current spread of Corona-19." 

The letter goes on to say,  "the doctors’ warning must be heeded – 'we need to act now to prevent a catastrophic number of preventable deaths.  At our current rate of spread, our hospitals will be overwhelmed in a few weeks without drastic action."  

The letter states that measures taken so far are welcomed but insufficient.

The letter notes that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in B.C. tripled in the last week.

“On Monday, March 16, there were 103 cases.  By Friday that had risen to 348. This means that if they continue to grow at the same rate there could be 9,000 cases in B.C. by April 1.  28,000 by April 8. 84,000 by April 15.”

The letter later points out, however, that the case numbers released this week showed the rate of increase has started to slow somewhat, “if this trend continues it may well represent the beginning of a flattening of what has been until now an exponential curve, Let us all hope that is the case, but not relax vigilance.”

The nurses say the only way the spread of the virus can be stopped is through “massive social distancing on a scale qualitatively beyond what has been done so far because what has been done so far is simply not working."

The letter suggests there should be a mandatory shutdown of every workplace except those deemed absolutely essential, singling out large job sites like Site C.

"Every construction camp needs to be closed, or we will continue to concentrate thousands of individuals in close quarters, with shared dining halls, bathrooms and bunk facilities, only to have them periodically fly out on leave and disperse across the province every few weeks."  

The open letter also calls for the homeless to be sheltered in unoccupied housing units, hotel rooms and motel rooms. Daycare makes the list as well, calling for a solution for every class of essential worker.

"There needs to be free hotel accommodation for doctors, respiratory therapists, nurses, housekeeping, paramedics, security, kitchen staff."  The letter also asks for better personal protection equipment – N95's, gowns and gloves – to ensure nurses remain caregivers, not patients.

"Finally, we need to make social distancing possible.  We need to provide financial support for everyone who has lost their job.  We need to provide guarantees against eviction for non-payment of rent or mortgages.  We need to ensure guaranteed supplies of food and medication for everyone housebound due to quarantine, voluntary isolation or mandatory social distancing."

"The measures to date are not working. This is an emergency.  We need to act like it’s an emergency."

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