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BC Federation of Retired Union
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BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Autumn 2020

 

FROM THE PRESIDENT – Diane Wood

This is way too curvy for comfort

No cure. No vaccine. It’s up to each of us to help stop the spread.

 

Predicting the ups and downs of a pandemic isn’t easy. Areas that appear to have successfully flattened the curve can suddenly be hit with a resurgence, a second wave, or a steep curve that looks like an Olympic ski hill.

Many experts are saying it will get worse before it gets better. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research centre at the University of Washington, has been among the more conservative prognosticators.

In early September, it predicted a global death toll of more than 2.8 million by the end of the year – over 24,000 deaths in Canada and more than 410,000 deaths in the U.S.

While we can’t know for certain where this is going, we can see where we have been, and draw some lessons on what we must do.

As of this writing, in early September, more than 80 percent of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, and more than 90 percent of the deaths, have been in Quebec and Ontario.

To date, B.C. has done remarkably well, with less than half as many cases and deaths as you would expect on the basis of our population.

This could change rapidly. The numbers are increasing.

Seniors need to be extraordinarily careful. COVID-19 is at least ten times deadlier than the seasonal flu. British Columbians who are 70 and older account for only 14 percent of the cases in our province, but 88 percent of the deaths.

This overwhelming risk to seniors underlines why it is vital for us to do everything we can to keep COVID- 19 out of long term care and assisted living residences.

In Quebec and Ontario, the system collapsed. Fearful workers abandoned their posts. The army was called in to take their place. Thousands of seniors died, isolated from friends and family, before their time.

In our province, 27,000 of B.C.’s most vulnerable elders live in long term care. Another 13,000 make their homes in assisted living facilities.

Instead of calling in the army, the B.C. NDP government increased wages, hired more staff, and invested heavily in infection prevention and control.

The new spending to help keep seniors safe – regardless of whether they live in public, for-profit, or nonprofit facilities – totals more than $200 million. (Read article here: Long term care is a real mess)

I think we can all be grateful for the extraordinary efforts our government has made, led by our hard working Health Minister Adrian Dix and his team.

Over the next months, when we may face an even greater challenge, we must strive to continue to do better.

On behalf of BC FORUM, and as a General Vice President of the Council of Seniors Citizens of B.C.(COSCO), I am serving on a task force looking into long term care.

Along with COSCO and the National Pensioners Federation we will be searching for answers and ideas to keep seniors safe, without cutting them off from contact with their friends and loved ones.

These are dangerous times.

Please be careful. Please take care of yourself and those who are close to you.

To get through this, we must stand together in solidarity, at a physical distance of two metres, and flatten the darn curve.Until there is a safe and effective vaccine, that’s the only way we can control this virus.

 

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