OPEN LETTER: Indigenous Leaders, Doctors, Nurses And Others Call For Closure Of Construction Camps

April 21, 2020


Premier John Horgan
BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix
BC Centre for Disease Control

We, the undersigned, are writing to request that you immediately shut down construction activities at all B.C.'s large industrial work camps and megaprojects.

Three factors make this step urgent.

First, these projects concentrate large numbers of workers together.  Despite modest staff reductions, reports indicate that the Site C dam project has 979 workers currently on site, with more coming.

Second, the cramped working and living conditions, the sharing of tools and the nature of the work itself render consistent physical distancing virtually impossible. 

Finally, the transient nature of these workforces regularly travelling back and forth to their home communities elsewhere in BC and Canada raises an unavoidable risk of work sites becoming incubators for the spread of COVID-19 onsite, during travel and in those home communities.

In many instances, industrial work camps are located in close proximity to First Nations communities. Asymptomatic infected workers coming in and out of camps risk the transmission of the COVID-19 virus to these and other small, vulnerable communities. There has already been a confirmed coronavirus case at the Kitimat LNG Canada project, and a number of workers at the Site C dam worksite remain on isolation. 
It is incomprehensible to us that the provincial government has chosen to define industrial work camps as essential services and keep these camps open. In essence, the provincial government is prioritizing private profit over human health. In the face of growing evidence of asymptomatic transfer of COVID-19*, this position is untenable.  Industrial work camps present a looming and unacceptable threat to health of the workers employed in them, their families and nearby northern communities. They add to the already existing threats to the survival of Indigenous people throughout the province.
We request that the government of B.C. shuts down any and all construction work at all large industrial work until such time as the Chief Provincial Health Officer indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a significant public health threat. 

(Organizations listed for identification purposes)

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Chief Don Tom - Vice-President, UBCIC, Vancouver
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson - Secretary-Treasurer, UBCIC, Vancouver
R.Warren Bell BA MDCM CCFP FCFP(LM) -Past Founding President, CAPE (Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment) Rural Preceptor, University of BC, Salmon Arm
Josette Wier MD - Hazelton
David Bowering MD - former Chief Medical Health Officer, Northern Health Authority, Hazelton
Doug Douglas McCorquodale - Past Legal and Defence Coordinator of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters
Will Offley RN - Emergency room nurse, Vancouver General Hospital,Vancouver
Christina Gowe -BSPN, RPN, PLN, Port Moody
Earl Peach - Solidarity Notes Choir
Cindy Godmaire RN - Parksville
Roz Isaac -  North Vancouver
Melissa Lem - MD, CCFP, FCFP
Kathrine Churchill RN
Jackie Larkin - Metchosin
Colleen Zahorodniuk RN - Kelowna
Larry Barzelai - MD CCFP
Stephanie Von Dehn - MD CCFP
Steve Gray - MD MHSC CCFP, Metchosin
Gene McGucki - Member, BROKE, Retired Past President of CEP Local 1129, Burnaby
Shari Laliberte RN PhD
Dr. Margaret J. McGregor MD CCFP MHSc
Carrie Wells RN - New Westminster
Alison Beatty RN
Jon Vereschagin RN
Dr. Rashmi Chadha - MBChB MScCH CCFP MRCGP (Dist.) ABAM DRCOG DCH Clinical Assistant Professor
Hanna Daber - Richmond, BC
Bridie Cain LPN
Ann Mayo - Coquitlam
Shirley Samples - Sunshine Coast Streamkeepers Society, Roberts Creek
Laurie Halfpenny RN
Christy Sutherland MD CCFP(AM) dABAM
Sabrina Levac RN
Kenneth A. Moselle, PhD, R.Psych - Director, Applied Clinical Research Unit
Meghan Asher RN
Cindy McCallum Miller - CUPW, Castlegar
Shelley Winterton PCA
Lissett Tschenscher RN
Ray Hawkes RN
Barbara Jackson - Vancouver
Ruth Walmsley - Burnaby
Wendell Seldura - RN
Rita Wong - SFU Burnaby
Michelle Sordal RN - Surrey
Rashmi Nath - Salt Spring
Paul Craik - Vancouver
Katie Bertram MD
R.D. Nicholl MD - Medical Director Broadmead Care
Kelly Lau MD
Satya Gauthier - Salt Spring
Elizabeth Hazell- Sierra Club
Betty Ackah - Vancouver
Marg Bizuk - Surrey
Baljeet Digpal RN

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