Covid Inconsistencies in British Columbia provincial decisions

Will Offley

In the last week the NDP government has taken a host of welcome steps to deal with the Covid-19 crisis in our province. There are a number of glaring exceptions to this, however, especially including Horgan's conntinuing refusal to actually require social distancing when that policy comes into conflict with the economy. Mining and construction are explicitly exempted from this, having been designated as essential services yesterday by the Solicotor-General.

There are 400-500 transient workers in Elk Valley Lodge, a Teck Corporation camp servicing four of Teck's coal mines in the Kootenays. 1,100 working on the Coastal Gaslink project for Royal Dutch Shell, Petronas, Petrochina, Mitsubishi and Korea Gas. 1,600 working on the Kitimat LNG Canada project. 1,800 working on the Site C dam. Not to memtion Transmountain pipeline sites in B.C. Most of these workers are living in camps in crowded conditions in shared dormitories with inadequate cleaning facilities and reported shortages of hand sanitizer and other disinfecting supplies. Then they mostly rotate out and fly home all over Canada after working a 10-14 day stretch. Think landlocked Diamond Princess and the picture starts to become clear.

Many of these workers are very worried and report pressure from their employers and fear of losing their jobs. 16 at Site C are in isolation with Covid-like symptoms. And Horgan and Trudeau still refuse to shut these camps down and impose a moratorium on further construction until the pandemic passes. Clearly they are putting corporate profits and the bottom line far ahead of the safety of these workers and the health care staff who will soon be meeting all too many of them, not to mention these workers' communities, all across the country. They are saying Site C is more important than heavy equipment operators. Teck is more important than miners. LNG Canada is more important than pipefitters. Coastal Gaslink is more important that the Wet'suwet'en. The only difference between both of them and Donald Trump is only a matter of degree. They are essentially doing the same thing, with slightly better PR. .