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West Van MLA questions health minister on how B.C. will decide to drop masks, vaccine passports

West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Karin Kirkpatrick questions Health Minister Adrian Dix on what criteria B.C. will use to lift measures like COVID-19 vaccine passports.
WV MLA Karin Kirkpatrick in leg
West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Karin Kirkpatrick questioned Health Minister Adrian Dix this week in the legislature about further easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

A West Vancouver MLA is asking what the government and B.C.’s top health official will use to determine the ending of B.C.’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccine passports and mask mandates.

Karin Kirkpatrick, MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano, raised the issue in the legislature this week asking B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix what targets the government is using to decide when measures like masks and vaccine passports can be relaxed.

“The point is really just to know what is going to trigger the next decision,” said Kirkpatrick in an interview. “Is it going to be case counts? Hospitalizations? I've got a lot of constituents on the North Shore, just saying, ‘Well, how do we know when we're there?’ ”

Kirkpatrick said she has no quarrel with masks or with vaccine passport requirements.

But she added many other provinces have now set dates or specific objectives that they will need to meet in order to lift remaining restrictions. In contrast, B.C. hasn’t done that, she said, adding so far Dix and B.C.’s health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, have only indicated when the restrictions will be reviewed, rather than how.

What is the goalpost?

“So what we’re asking is, ‘Well, what are you going to consider? What are you going to review?’ Just so British Columbians have a sense of what is the goalpost we’re trying to get to.”

“British Columbia, still has no end date for the vaccine card ... Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia – everywhere else has set a date.”

Other provinces lifting more restrictions

Kirkpatrick said she doesn’t think it’s her place to tell health officials what the targets should be, but added it’s fair for citizens to know if there’s a key piece of information being considered, whether that’s numbers of people with COVID in ICU or hospital, or information coming in from jurisdictions where more restrictions have already been lifted.

Kirkpatrick said she sees a mix of comments on the issue from constituents.

The majority of people aren’t complaining about masks and vaccine passports, she said. “People have been pretty good, I think,” she said. She added, most conversation in the community has also been respectful.

“I know in many other communities, MLAs have received very different phone calls,” she said.

Last month, B.C. lifted some COVID-19 restrictions, including capacity limits at most indoor events. Nightclubs, weddings and funerals are all allowed to take place now. However, capacity limits remain in place for school events and there are still some restrictions on visits to long-term care homes. Mask requirements remain in place for indoor public spaces, and vaccine passports remain in effect for many non-essential activities.

Measures to be reviewed near Spring Break

Most recently, Henry indicated that she would consider easing some further restrictions around the time Spring Break starts.

In response to Kirkpatrick’s question, Dix said the government is continuing to follow the advice of public health.

Dix noted the number of people in hospital has dropped to half the number it was during the peak of the Omicron variant wave. “However, it’s also still higher than at any point in the pandemic prior to December 1st,” he said, adding the situation remains challenging for health-care workers.

 

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