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B.C. Green Party leader calls on Premier to support young people amid surge in COVID cases

Last Updated Mar 29, 2021 at 10:52 pm PDT

Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is seen as she leaves media event during a campaign stop in West Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Leader of the BC Green Party is calling out the premier for his comments surrounding young people and COVID-19

Sonia Furstenau says instead of blaming the younger generation the province could look at supporting them

She says everyone has had to make sacrifices during the pandemic, and that includes the younger generation

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The leader of the B.C. Green Party is calling out the premier after he blamed people between the age of 20 and 39 for a spike in COVID cases and “putting the rest of us in a challenging situation.”

During a news conference Monday, Premier John Horgan said young people need to curtail their social activity as the province recorded 2,518 new cases over the weekend.

“Do not blow this for your parents and your neighbours and others who have been working really hard by making significant sacrifices, so we can get good outcomes for everybody,” he said.

RELATED: B.C. pauses indoor dining, religious gatherings, closes Whistler as COVID-19 cases rise

However, B.C.’s Green party leader Sonia Furstenau says that instead of blaming the younger generation, the province could look at possible reasons why that age demographic is showing higher infection rates.

“We have a lack of affordable housing, so people are having to live with roommates. We have low-paying jobs, so people often have to work more than one job. People rely on transit.

“There are many many reasons why the 20 to 39 year old demographic is showing higher rates of infection … I don’t think it’s right or appropriate to put this down to personal choice when there are a lot of systemic issues at play here.”

Furstenau says while some younger people are likely gathering when they shouldn’t be, she wants the province to look at systemic reasons; adding language like Horgan’s could create a stigma around getting tested for the virus.

“We don’t want people to be reluctant to get tested if they have symptoms because they feel like they’re going to be stigmatized because they have COVID,” she says.

“It’s just really important that all of us, but particularly those of us in roles of leadership, start from a place of empathy and compassion and proceed from there.”

She says the government needs to implement policies that will help the younger generation recover from the pandemic. And communicate, provide more data, and transparency about what’s informing decision making.

Furstenau adds she’s even reflected on what her 20s were like and how devastating living in a pandemic would be like.

“It’s really important for us to remember what it’s like to be in our 20s but also, on top of that, things have become far less affordable in the past several decades … conditions for 20 to 39-year-olds are quite a bit harder than they were for many of us when we were that age.”

She says the government needs recognize that the younger generation, who, like all of us, have had to make sacrifices during this pandemic.

“This is a global pandemic. It’s been a lot of sacrifices and a lot of loss for everybody. But in terms of the demographic of 20 to 39-year-olds, the losses have been enormous in terms of job loss, financial opportunity loss, not being able to be in person at university.”