VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Premier John Horgan’s move to blame young people for B.C.’s latest surge in COVID-19 cases is not going over well.
He’s facing backlash for his comments made Monday, with some wondering if Horgan should be looking to himself for someone to blame.
“The cohort from 20 to 39 are not paying as much attention to these broadcasts and quite frankly, are putting the rest of us in a challenging situation,” the premier said at a briefing Monday, during which the province announced new restrictions.
“I’m asking, I’m appealing to young people to curtail your social activity,” Horgan said. “My appeal to you is do not blow this for the rest of us. Do not blow this for your parents and your neighbors and others who have been working really really hard making significant sacrifices, so we can get good outcomes for everybody.”
"I think it's important the Premier apologize for this comment (blaming 20-39s for virus spike), not just because it's not backed up by data, but because young people have given so, so much," — listen @NEWS1130 as UBC NDP Pres @JustinKulik calls @jjhorgan comments "out of line." pic.twitter.com/kDDML8Kjh7
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) March 30, 2021
However, given it’s people in that exact demographic who are putting their health on the line every day to work in grocery stores, restaurants, and in more direct lines of fire like health care, UBC New Democrats President Justin Kulik calls the premier’s comments unacceptable.
“We have been hit hard by just about everything in this pandemic. Education, job loss, our mental health — we’re seeing that it’s young people putting themselves at risk every day to keep our province working. But we’re still getting the blame at the end of the day and being told not to ‘blow it for the rest of us,'” said Kulik, who ran for the BC NDP in the last provincial election.
“I think it’s important that the premier apologize for this comment — not just because it isn’t backed up by data but just because young people have given so, so much,” he added.
Kulik took to Twitter to call for Horgan’s apology on Monday.
“I was your youngest candidate,” he wrote. “Young people are on the front lines. We are struggling. How dare you tell young people not to ‘ruin it for the rest of us.'”
Premier, I was one of your 86 fellow BC NDP Candidates in this past election. I was your youngest candidate. Young people are on the front lines. We are struggling. How dare you tell young people not to "ruin it for the rest of us."
You owe us an apology. https://t.co/31ohuxc8WY
— Justin M. J. Kulik (@JustinKulik) March 30, 2021
Kulik tells NEWS 1130 when he heard Horgan attribute the rise in cases to young people, he couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
“I ran alongside the premier — he was one of the BC NDP’s candidates, as was I. And to hear this rhetoric coming from the government is disappointing. I really think there are better approaches to this, and even if there was data to back up this rhetoric — which there isn’t — it still wouldn’t be appropriate,” he explained.
While he admits he has his disagreements with various NDP leadership members, Kulik says his calls for an apology are solely based on Horgan’s move to point the finger at young people.
“I’ve seen some BC Liberal MLAs retweeting me and even then I still recognize that their years in government were more harmful to young people and our education than these comments from the premier,” he said.
Many have taken to social media to blast the premier for his comments. That includes BC Green candidate Adam Bremner-Akins, another young politician, who put out his own criticism on Twitter.
“Young people are on the front lines, providing services for you, and the rest of the province, and have sacrificed so much already,” one post reads.
Outlining the essential jobs young people fill and the impacts they’ve felt over the past year, Bremner-Akins didn’t mince words while calling the premier out, saying “We don’t deserve to be blamed for your governments (sic) incompetence, if you really wanted to help young people you would, but you are just using stereotypes to throw us under the bus for your political gain, and not address other issues.”
1/10 @jjhorgan today you blamed young people for the rise in cases, and said we were blowing it for the “rest of us”, to that I say how dare you. Young people are on the front lines, providing services for you, and the rest of the province, and have sacrificed so much already.
— Adam Bremner-Akins (@ABremnerAkins) March 29, 2021
BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau also took time to call Horgan out for blaming young people, saying that instead of blaming them, “maybe government could look at the data and systemic conditions that are leading to higher case counts in this demographic and step up to help them. Just like we did for seniors.”
B.C. reported 2,518 new COVID-19 cases over the three-day weekend period, with 936 new infections between Friday and Saturday, 805 between Saturday and Sunday, and 774 between Sunday and Monday.