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

Alexander Erikson's award-winning piece, The Provider, on display at the Kitimat Museum and Archives (Photo Frieda Design School)
Kitimat Museum and Archives host Freda Diesing school art exhibition

Local Kitimat art exhibition from students of the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art

Security has been stepped up at both Kitimat General Hospital in Kitimat, pictured here, and at the Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. (File photo)
Stillbirth reaction leads to more hospital security

Staff, physicians facing threats and harassment

Workers at Kitimat General Hospital were presented with a large variety of food packages in appreciation of the last year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The donations came via local Epicurean representative Kerri Weightman who collected money for the purchases. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Hospital workers receive food donation

Workers at Kitimat General Hospital were presented with a large variety of… Continue reading

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Most Read