The province’s health system is “virtually in collapse” and needs every worker it can possibly get, BC United leader Kevin Falcon has told NowMedia.
The leader of the opposition said the NDP government is waging a “crusade” against healthcare workers who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 despite there being “no science to back it up.”
About 2,500 unvaccinated workers were fired in British Columbia in 2021, representing less than two per cent of the overall public healthcare workforce.
While every other province in Canada has removed the requirement that its health workers be vaccinated against COVID-19, the policy has been retained in BC, with Health Minister Adrian Dix defending the move.
“We’re literally this one little spot in North America that’s decided that we’re going to continue to punish healthcare workers,” Falcon said.
“There’s no science to back it up.”
He added that the government is being “very ideological,” explaining: “I think the NDP for whatever reason has decided that they are going to have a crusade against healthcare workers. And at a time when we’ve got emergency departments shutting down, hospitals that can barely keep up, to leave thousands of healthcare workers on the sidelines that are willing and able to come back to the healthcare system doesn’t make any sense.”
The Vancouver-Quilchena MLA said the province’s health system is “the worst I’ve ever seen.”
“Some people may still feel nervous about unvaccinated workers coming back, but remember, they’re going to be wearing masks in the hospital,” he said.
“We’ve got testing, they can be tested. This is something that is very manageable.”
He added: “At a time when our healthcare system is virtually in collapse, we need every worker we can possibly get to help out.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Falcon also discussed the carbon tax, home ownership, the drugs crisis and new legislation on short-term rentals.
He said to “just keep hitting” British Columbians with carbon tax increases “at a time when emissions are not going down” is a “failed policy.”
Falcon repeated his plans for the tax – including abolishing it entirely if the Conservative Party wins the next federal election – and also stressed the importance of making investments in rapid-transit systems to bring down emissions.
On the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act, Falcon said the legislation is “not going to work” because landlords need more reassurances before they move over to the long-term rental market.
He also cited Taylor Swift’s gigs in Vancouver next December as an example of how any potential decline in the availability of short-term rentals could be disastrous.
“We’ve got Taylor Swift coming here next year – everyone’s excited about that, for sure – but imagine, 164,000 people are going to descend on Vancouver from across the province, across the country, around the world,” he said.
“Where are they going to stay? Well, the Airbnbs are no longer going to be an option so suddenly they’re looking at $1,200-a-night hotel rooms.”
Falcon also spoke about the overdose crisis in BC, stressing the need for the government to change direction.
“Just handing out drugs to people to keep them breathing is frankly not a good enough solution,” he said. “We have to help people get better.”
The BC United leader also spoke about his party’s new name, explaining that he’s confident British Columbians will get used to it in time and come to connect it with the BC Liberals.
He said the name is important because it represents his desire to lead a unifying government in the province, one that is not focused in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.
“I would rather lose a hundred elections than be a divisive leader,” he said.