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Concerning Industrial Camps in the North and PHO Guidelines

As your MLA for Stikine I would like to respond to concerns I have received about industrial camps and COVID-19. 

The health of BC residents is the number one priority of our government during this COVID-19 pandemic and our provincial response. Actions and words of Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have consistently supported this priority.

In Stikine the concentration of workers at several industrial camps came to my attention early on as we consider our COVID-19 response and the need to protect workers, communities and create safe operating environments.

As a government we take our advice on a science-based approach from Provincial Health Officer (PHO) Dr. Henry and her expert wealth of global experience on pandemics such as SARS and Ebola.

Here is what Dr. Henry said about work camps in the province during her March 30 daily news conference:

”In terms of the industrial camps, I mean that is something that we’ve been working with Northern Health in particular, but across the board in the north. Many if not all of them have gone to a very reduced staff, for various reasons. We don’t want as many people coming in and out of the community; we’ve done things like extending the length of time that people are there, going to safety staff only. I think it’s important to recognize you can’t just abandon a large mine or industrial site - that’s not safe, it’s not safe for the community or the environment as well. So Northern Health has been very active working with the industrial camps in the north to reduce the risks in those camps, and make sure that they’re scaling back appropriately to be able to put in place the measures that we have required under our Provincial Health Officer orders in those facilities to reduce the risk to the people there, and also the communities around those camps."

 

This was followed up with a March 30 news release on industrial camps from the PHO: 

 

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020EMBC0018-000598

 

And a detailed COVID-19 communicable disease guide for industrial camps also published March 30: 

 

http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/employers-businesses/industrial-camps 

 

Which followed March 25 and March 18 guideline announcements specific to mining operations from the PHO and the Chief Inspector of Mines: 

 

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19_guidance_to_mining_and_smelting_march_25_2020.pdf 

 

And a March 22 statement on construction site COVID-19 safety from the PHO:

 

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19_guidance_to_construction_sites_march_22_2020.pdf

Moving from the provincial overview to a constituency focus, Stikine has two industrial camps both related to the mining sector. As the Stikine MLA I have contacted those associated with both of these operations – Red Chris and Brucejack.

 

Recently I was in touch with the Tahltan Central Council. You may have heard that they reached a mutually acceptable agreement with Red Chris mine regarding COVID-19 actions.  The details of the actions are in this joint news release from March 26:

 

https://tahltan.org/tahltan-nation-and-newcrest-collaborate-for-community-health-and-safety/ 

 

I was also in touch recently with Pretium who owns the BruceJack Mine. Their COVID-19 response plan is detailed in this March 26 update: 

 

https://www.pretivm.com/brucejack/Pretivms-COVID-19-Response/default.aspx

 

In both cases the mines are extending shifts to limit travel and prolong crew turnover times, reducing staff to essential levels, and enforcing physical distancing amongst other measures as was outlined by the PHO and Chief Inspector of Mines.

 

An industrial camp facility in the constituency of Nechako Lakes is also very close to the border with Stikine. I have been in touch with Coastal Gas Link regarding the status of Camp 9A as it relates to the COVID-19 response. I was informed that Camp 9A is currently vacant with no date on when it will be reactivated. CGL made this statement on crew number reductions on March 26:

 

https://www.coastalgaslink.com/whats-new/news-stories/2020/winter-construction-completion/

 

And finally there will be camp situations associated with the Interior tree planting activities beginning in May and the wildfire season. Updates on COVID-19 preventative measures associated with those activities will be posted to this site.