NDP: BC Liberal Leader Wilkinson’s disagreement with Dr. Bonnie Henry

Can British Columbians trust BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson’s judgment on COVID-19?

THE BC NDP said on Thursday that with the BC Liberals running misleading attack ads that politicize the public health response to COVID-19, it was time to look at their leader Andrew Wilkinson’s record.

In June and July, Wilkinson repeatedly pushed to lift COVID-19 restrictions in specific regions, even after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry directly rejected the idea.

On June 2, Andrew Wilkinson sent a letter calling for Dr. Henry to consider “lifting more restrictions in regions with lower case counts such as Vancouver Island, the Okanagan, the Kootenays and the North.”

The same day, Dr. Henry was asked about Wilkinson’s request. She rejected regional reopenings, emphasizing the need for a coordinated provincial approach and noting there is no “differential risk” of COVID-19 in different parts of the province.

Despite Dr. Henry’s clear answer, Wilkinson continued to push the idea for at least six weeks:

The next day, he said to Mike Smyth: “Isn’t it time to consider regionally specific approaches for such a big province? Where the instance of the disease varies so widely.” 

On June 4, he said to CBC Daybreak North: “There’ve been a lot of unfortunate deaths, but we’re over the hump, and we’re coming out of it, and the query comes – so how do we manage this success in British Columbia? This is a huge province, so should all of it be managed on the same terms?”

On June 8, he said: “I think it’s a question of the Interior, the north and Vancouver Island saying how long do we have to be at zero before we can get back to normal? Are we always going to be controlled by the activity in the Lower Mainland?”

On June 25, he claimed Dr. Henry’s “answer wasn’t very clear… we raised this issue and never got an answer about their criteria that might be used to come to different conclusions in different parts of the province.”

The same day, a large exposure event started in downtown Kelowna, eventually linked to at least 130 cases.

Despite growing outbreaks in the interior, Wilkinson raised the idea again on July 16: “The issue is where there’s very low incidents, like the north… do all of the rules apply everywhere?… the question we asked was if there has been extremely low incidence in a region, is it possible to have a variation in the rules between regions?”

Why should people be concerned about Wilkinson’s difference of opinion with Dr. Henry, and his willingness to disregard her advice?

Earlier this week, Wilkinson suggested he would get involved in independent public health decisions:

“When we see a wide range of different approaches to the pandemic around the world, I like to think that someone with an MD like me can look at that and say, what’s the best for BC?”