A BC Emergency Health Services team of Major Incident Rapid Response paramedics will remain deployed in the community of Fort St. James for at least another four days, as of Dec. 14. (BC Emergency Health Services photo)

A BC Emergency Health Services team of Major Incident Rapid Response paramedics will remain deployed in the community of Fort St. James for at least another four days, as of Dec. 14. (BC Emergency Health Services photo)

Mayor, MLA call for transparency from NHA amid COVID surge in Fort St. James

“We’re all in it together here,” Fort St. James Mayor Bob Motion said.

Government officials in the Fort St. James region are asking for transparency after a recent surge of COVID-19 cases.

Fort St. James Mayor Bob Motion and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad both expressed frustration after conflicting novel coronavirus positive figures were released last week — 60 by BC Emergency Health Services and 40 by Northern Health in a region of roughly 4,500 people.

A BC EHS Rapid Response Team of four, Vancouver-based, highly-trained paramedics has since been deployed to the region to support its overwhelmed health care services.

READ MORE: B.C.’s specialized COVID paramedics ‘impressed’ with Fort St. James community response

“There’s significant concern [in the community],” Motion told Black Press Media. “I’d like to see the provincial government allow the health districts or agencies to release the numbers of active COVID patients on a community basis.”

Rustad said when the seriousness of the crisis surrounding COVID-19 cases in the region became apparent last week he immediately reached out to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, Northern Health and members of a local First Nations community to attempt to get a handle on the situation.

“Each of those organizations I spoke with provided me with different data but, at the end of the day, whether it is 40, 60 or 80 cases, the response is still the same for what people need to do. But with the unknowns it creates rumours, it creates fear and the best way to address any kind of crisis is to make sure we have accurate information going out to community members.”

Motion said, initially, when the region’s COVID-19 positive case numbers were released to the media by BC EHS he was upset.

“As it’s turned out they put us on the map and it puts us in a position where we’re getting more resources had they not done that,” he said. “So, in a round about way, I’d like to thank them for doing that.”

Rustad said people around the province have been asking for community-level data since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I know our health workers are doing the best they can, and so are the organizations dealing with this so, surely, nine months into a pandemic, they can figure out how to report accurately.”

Both Motion and Rustad also pointed out the difficulty First Nations communities including Nak’azdli Whut’en, Tl’azt’en and Binche Whut’en are having dealing with COVID-19 cases.

“The socioeconomic conditions on reserve living is not conducive to social distancing and self isolation,” Motion said, noting the limited housing available. “It just isn’t and it’s an unfortunate fact.”

READ MORE: Rapid response paramedics arrive in Fort St. James as district reaches 60 COVID-19 cases

Motion said a meeting is scheduled with Northern Health where he plans to express his concerns, however, in the meantime, urges everyone to do they best they can to help support each other as the situation is addressed.

BC EHS’s Rapid Response Team, initially deployed for a four-day stint on Dec. 9, announced on Dec. 14 it would remain in Fort St. James for another four days.

“We’re all in it together here,” Motion said. “We can’t beat them up, and we’ve got to work with them as best as we can.”



greg.sabatino@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirusnorthernbc

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

FILE – Residents of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory southwest of Montreal continue to monitor a blockade leading to blocked railroad tracks that pass through their community as they protest in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on Sunday, March 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
B.C. Supreme Court rejects Wet’suwet’en bid to toss LNG pipeline certificate

Opposition last year by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs set off Canada-wide rail blockades

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read