For the past three weeks I have heard the concerns from Gulf Islanders about the threat that COVID-19 poses to their communities.
I’ve received hundreds of emails and phone calls. This concern has dominated every conversation with elected officials from the CRD and Islands Trust. Of course there is cause for significant concern. We have extremely limited health capacity on the islands, and significant risks come from people travelling onto the islands from elsewhere.
Two weeks ago when I stood in the Chamber and asked my single question in the truncated Question Period during the emergency sitting, I shared the concerns that I was hearing and asked if the provincial government was going to move to restrict access to the Gulf Island communities.
Minister of Health Adrian Dix did not answer the question directly, however, was direct in asking all British Columbia to self-isolate. He and Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Chief Medical Officer), were emphatic that they needed 100% of British Columbians to follow 100% of the rules (and orders) 100% of the time. They have continued to be clear on this message.
While Dr. Henry has strongly encouraged people not to travel to rural and remote communities. It seems to be increasingly clear that neither the provincial nor the federal government, are going to take the extraordinary step to issue an order restricting access to rural, remote and isolated communities.
The call is not just coming from the Southern Gulf Islands. It is coming from rural, remote and isolated communities throughout British Columbia and across Canada.
By continuing to work together and taking personal responsibility to follow all the orders and recommendations entirely, we can safeguard against exposing vulnerable communities to unnecessary risk and we can ensure we stay safe and healthy and are able to get through this pandemic. Please listen to our public health and safety officials and do not travel to the Southern Gulf Islands unless it is absolutely essential!