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BC Green Party calls for more aggressive COVID-19 measures

Last Updated Apr 8, 2021 at 10:07 am PDT

FILE -- B.C. Green party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks during a media availability following her speech at the UBCM convention at the Victoria Conference Centre in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday September 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Summary

Sonia Furstenau argues it's time to close in-person schooling amid a rise in COVID-19 cases

BC Green Party calling for stricter COVID-19 measures for three week period, including closure of non-essential business

Greens pushing for tougher public health measures amid COVID-19 spike in B.C.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s Green Party leader says it’s time for the province to implement more aggressive measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

Leader Sonia Furstenau argues it’s time to close in-person schooling, and says it’s time to start actual enforcement to stop non-essential travel, as well as the introduction of government support for businesses forced to close.

The party is making this push as B.C. deals with the worst stage of the pandemic we’ve seen to date, with recent new case counts coming in at around 1,000 per day.

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Variants remain a concern, with transmission continuing across the province.

“I think I’d like to see, first of all, the government rise to the moment we’re in and show a level of urgency as well as identify what their vision and their plan is,” Furstenau told NEWS 1130.

“We have doctors who are speaking up about the high rates of hospitalization in ICUs, we have epidemiologists and experts who are saying that the trajectory could see us at 3,000 cases a day by the end of April, and we have a response from the NDP government that is underwhelming, to say the least.”

Furstenau says B.C. loosened restrictions despite rising variant cases, allowed out-of-province travel, and stalled in-school mask mandates. She believes the situation we’re in was a result of inaction.

Saying it can’t just be left to the public to deal with the crisis, Furstenau adds there needs to be a coordinated response and action from the provincial government “that shows they are taking the immediate and long-term threat of COVID-19 seriously.”

The Green caucus wants to see the mentioned measures enforced for a three-week period.

The party is also calling for a return to daily COVID-19 briefings, case numbers to be shared on weekends and holidays, longer media availabilities, and new public messaging to get the point across to those who flout the rules.

Furstenau says B.C. also needs to increase testing and vaccinations. That includes expanding testing to asymptomatic individuals and conducting rapid testing in workplaces, schools, businesses, and neighbourhoods; improving reporting on variants, and increasing resources at vaccine clinics to extend hours.

The Green Party leader points to other countries that took drastic measures to deal with variant spread.

“The other thing that I find quite astonishing is that we can see into the future, because other countries that have had these variants have had to take these measures in order to stop them and have stepped up their testing,” she said.

When it comes to enforcing restrictions on non-essential travel, Furstenau says the B.C. government can again look to other jurisdictions — some right here in Canada.

“In the Maritimes where there have been checks on travel, you could have people who are travelling by ferry have to declare, for example, that they are travelling for essential purposes,” she explained. “Again, for our government, particularly, over a year of being in a state of emergency as we have been in B.C. which provides government with enormous powers. For our government to say, ‘well we just can’t do anything about it’ is actually, frankly, quite shocking.”

The province has previously said it could not restrict interprovincial travel.

-With files from Monika Gul