B.C. NDP leader John Horgan poses with members of the public during a ‘mainstreeting’ campaign stop Sunday, Oct. 18, at Parksville Community Park. (Peter McCully/Black Press)

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan poses with members of the public during a ‘mainstreeting’ campaign stop Sunday, Oct. 18, at Parksville Community Park. (Peter McCully/Black Press)

John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation, cancer centre, long-term care

Long-time Island MLA and incumbent premier speaks from campaign trail

Premier John Horgan was campaigning on the boardwalk in Parksville this afternoon and most people he encountered, even outside, were wearing masks. You can still see the smiles behind their masks, he said.

The NDP leader, campaigning in four Vancouver Island cities on Sunday, Oct. 18, didn’t stop in Nanaimo, but spoke to the News Bulletin over the phone. Asked about recent anti-mask protests including a disturbance on B.C. Ferries, Horgan said he always worries when misinformation is being spread but thinks the vast majority of British Columbians understand what it means to be a good citizen.

“If people aren’t prepared to live by the rules in a civil society, they don’t have to participate,” he said. “If you don’t want to take a B.C. ferry, get a water taxi, buy a boat, but do not put people at risk because you don’t believe that COVID-19 exists. It does, hundreds of people have died in British Columbia … and I’m personally not prepared to accept people disregarding facts and science.”

He said one only needs to look to the United States to see consequences of misinformation about COVID-19. He contrasted the U.S. experience with B.C., which he said has led the continent “if not the world” in keeping mortality rates and cases per capita low.

Horgan said talking to people during the election campaign, “it’s all about getting through COVID-19,” but that comes with unknowns – he said there will still be a pandemic in the spring, likely next fall as well and maybe into 2022.

He said “healing will happen” in B.C. politics after the election and he hopes that whatever the next government looks like, there will be the kind of co-operation that he saw early on in the pandemic “so that we could get to that place we were in March and April where we were all focused on making sure our communities were safe, healthy and secure.”

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Horgan was in Campbell River on Sunday morning announcing wild salmon restoration initiatives, and in Parksville in the afternoon he said he talked to people about seniors’ care. He said 7,000 more workers for long-term care facilities could be something positive to come out of the pandemic.

“We need to make sure that as much as we are focusing on child care for young families, we also need to focus on seniors’ care for those who have parents and grandparents looking at their latter years, leaving their homes and moving into a facility,” Horgan said.

READ ALSO: Liberal and NDP leaders’ election tours swing through North Island

READ ALSO: Horgan makes ‘mainstreeting’ campaign stop at Parksville Community Park

Another health care topic discussed was the NDP’s election promise of a cancer centre for Nanaimo. Horgan noted that the party’s 10-year plan for cancer care includes $450 million in the first three years to improve treatment, diagnostics and other services. He noted that it will create new jobs and medical training opportunities and said locating a cancer centre on the mid Island will be “transformative” for cancer patients in Nanaimo and points north.

Horgan’s campaigning Sunday brought him to two ridings held by opposition parties, but he said as far as he’s concerned, every riding is in play for his party to make gains on election day. He noted the volume of vote-by-mail packages requested and the high turnout at advance polls.

“These are all, I think, tools that make our democracy better and encourage more participation,” he said. “It’s as easy as easy can be to exercise your franchise and vote for the candidate of your choice.”

READ ALSO: B.C.’s snap election means 700K ballots will be counted manually, delaying results



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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