The B.C. government has ordered LNG Canada and other industrial worksites to drastically reduce their workforces–but a former health official slammed the rules, saying they don’t go nearly far enough.
“Absolutely bizarre,” is how Dr. David Bowering, a former chief medical health officer for Northern Health, described the provincial order signed in late December by Dr. Bonnie Henry.
That order, as Skeena Strong reported, requires Coastal Gas Link pipeline, the Site C Dam, the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Rio Tinto Kemano project, as well as LNG Canada, to pare back their workforces until they present a COVID plan approved by the government.
For LNG Canada that means an initial baseline of 450 workers, which can grow to 1100 by late January if Dr. Henry signs off.
“What are those numbers based on and why is there this assumption that they can progressively return to full speed by early February?” Dr. Bowering recently told The Tyee. He argues the worksites should be on a skeleton crew until the coronavirus is under greater control.
“For example, churches that are shut down, they’re not given two weeks and then you can have half your congregation back and then by February you can have your full congregation, as long as you present us with it with a safety plan,” he went on. “This is the government’s church, and it’s irrational. They should have to play by the same rules as everyone else’s, in my opinion.”
Back at the beginning of the pandemic, Bowering wrote an open letter to provincial health officer Dr. Henry saying that worksites like LNG Canada should be shut down to protect the surrounding communities from COVID.
“These are essentially land locked cruise ships and need to be dealt with as we have done with far less risky aggregations of people and workers across the province and across the world. The camps are and will be COVID-19 incubators placing the workers, the host communities , and the home communities of the workers at unacceptable risk,” he wrote at the time.
That prediction appears to have come true, with some of the largest outbreaks in the Skeena region tied to LNG Canada.