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LETTER: Maple Ridge council wasting time with topics outside its mandate

Councillors should leave medical decisions to medical experts, letter writer says

Dear Editor,

Re: [Lift vaccine controls, council says, The News, March 4]

I was disappointed to read that Maple Ridge city council has spent time passing a motion put forward by Councillor Chelsa Meadus to request the province allow non-vaccinated residents to access recreation facilities in our city. This motion represents, at most, between 10 to 15 per cent of the city’s population (85 to 92 per cent of MR residents 12 years and older are fully vaccinated – two doses – against COVID-19).

Councillor Meadus based her motion on a survey that was funded by the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health. This survey measured the public’s perceptions of risk, acceptability of public health measures, and the broader impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including mental health.

Not surprisingly, as Councilor Meadus states, COVID-19 has had its negative impacts with 57 per cent of the respondents in Fraser Health (57 per cent provincially) reported worsening mental health since the start of the pandemic and 27 per cent (25 per cent provincially) reported increased stress. However, although it could be inferred, nowhere in the report were these results directly linked to an inability to access recreation facilities.

City council members need to pay heed to their fellow councilman, Gordon Robson, and remember they are not experts in Public Health, and as leaders in our community, our council needs to support the evidence-based decisions made by the Public Health experts. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry continues to weigh the risks and benefits of lifting COVID-19 measures, including the use of the health passport. In February the risk of doing away with the health passport was deemed too high due to the number of hospitalized COVID-19 cases and the resulting stress on our healthcare system.

This may change in March or April – but the change will be based on evidence-based risk versus benefit and if the risk to society outweighs the benefit, the health passport will remain. A request from an individual City council will not change this evidence-based decision.

Time spent preparing, discussing, and voting on this motion is a waste of our tax dollars and could be better spent on items within the council’s sphere of influence.

Supporting and promoting evidence-based reasons to receive a COVID -19 booster vaccine would be a great place to start. Only 41 per cent of 18- to 49-year-olds in Maple Ridge have received their booster dose and 73 per cent of those 50+ years.

Evidence tells us that booster doses increase protection up to more than 95 per cent against Delta infection or hospitalization and increase protection up to more than 90 per cent against hospitalization with Omicron and about 50 to 60 per cent against Omicron infection.

Immunization is an evidence-based method of not only controlling infection but decreasing hospitalization, which in turn will result in public health measures being lifted.

Another item more than worthy of this council’s attention is B.C.’ s parallel pandemic – the opioid crisis – how is council supporting people with addictions in Maple Ridge – or better yet in preventing addiction?

Mayor and council, let’s see more motions come forward supporting residents and families who are affected by the opioid crisis – a pandemic that is killing six people a day in the province of B.C.

(Reference: BCCDC.ca)

Susan Loadman, Maple Ridge

• READ MORE: LETTER: Maple Ridge councillor’s motion too little, too late

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