Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Time to ban interprovincial travel for workers on resource projects

Writer pens an open letter to B.C.’s health minister asking for a ban on out-of-province workers

I want to begin by thanking you, as health minister, and Dr. Bonnie Henry for the tremendous sustained effort and energy that you and your team have done to help manage the spread of COVID-19 in the Province of B.C. We in BC are very grateful for your commitment to bring the best possible health care to all British Colombians.

Rising COVID-19 numbers in north central and northwestern B.C. are quickly becoming a matter of grave concern to citizens who live in these regions. On Dec. 18, The CBC’s Andrew Kurjata reported that “Between Nov. 18 and Dec. 17 there have been 108 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Nechako Local Health Area — a region with fewer than 13,000 people. That means nearly one per cent of the population has been infected in a month.” That is an alarming spread.

It is also alarming that it appears very little has been done to limit and restrict workers who travel from other provinces to work on mega-projects such as the Coastal Gas Link project that loosely parallels a region south of highway 16 as it snakes through the Lakes District.

These projects are bringing hundreds and hundreds of workers into our region on a regular sustained basis. More recently on Dec. 20, The Interior News reported Northern Health has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at two accommodation sites for workers on the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline project near Burns Lake.

In a written statement, the health authority said 27 people had tested positive for the virus so far, and 17 cases are still active.

Here In Terrace and Kitimat, we nervously watch as a steady stream of construction workers fly into the Northwest Regional Airport from across Canada. Many of these workers come from areas hard hit by COVID-19. Not surprisingly we have also had outbreaks at the LNG Canada work camp in Kitimat.

It is time to put the safety of the residents of Northern B.C. ahead of the ongoing, unrelenting travel that brings these workers and COVID-19 from across Canada into Northern B.C.

Given the current severity of COVID-19 throughout much of Canada I believe it is time to scale things back and close all inter-provincial travel by out-ofprovince workers.

While COVID-19 spread is complex and multifaceted, this is one significant measure I believe would contribute toward bringing north central and northwestern B.C.’s rising COVID-19 numbers under control.

In northern BC have limited hospital capacity. On a couple of occasions we have been helped by resources from outside our region. We are very grateful and thankful for that strategic assistance by your ministry.

We ask you as the minister of health to take action and close all inter-provincial work related traffic into B.C. before an alarming situation becomes an even more serious situation.

Charles Claus


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada sits ready for use at The Michener Institute in Toronto on December 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)
Lake Babine Nation to receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine to arrive within next two weeks for elders 65+

The first of two massive turbines headed from Prince Rupert for the Site C Dam near Fort St. John on Jan 10. (Photo: Supplied by Tasha McKenzie)
Massive turbines begin trek across Northwestern B.C.

Hydro-Electric turbines headed from Prince Rupert to Site C Dam week of Jan. 10 to 14

Zhùr, the ancient wolf pup found mummified in permafrost at Last Chance Creek mine in July 2016. (Government of Yukon/Submitted)
‘Mummy’ wolf pup unearthed in permafrost paints a picture of ice age ancestors

Zhùr is the best preserved and most complete mummy of an ancient wolf found to date.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Most Read