Vulnerability Isn’t Seasonal: Keep Masks in BC Healthcare

Two adults in N95 masks against a light blue background, one with long dark hair, assisting an elder with white hair using a walker. Black text reads, Vulnerability Isn't Seasonal. #KeepMasksInHealthcare. Have your say by April 1.

Keep masks in BC healthcare in 2024

UPDATE: As of April 8, 2024, British Columbia has announced they’re discarding existing mask requirements in hospitals and long-term care homes, apparently with immediate effect. This disregards both evidence-based practice and the calls of vulnerable people across BC, and we don’t intend to let it go unaddressed. Please stay tuned for a fuller statement and plan of action - and in the meantime, you can still use this email form to contact dozens of BC policy-makers at once - just rewrite the form letter!

BC currently requires masks in hospitals and long-term care for staff, contractors, visitors and volunteers (but not for patients). While healthcare masking in BC was removed in April 2023 - drawing criticism from patients, doctors, researchers, and BC’s Human Rights Commissioner - this partial mask requirement was restored in October 2023.

At the time, BC policy-makers indicated healthcare masking would be in place for at least a “few months”, over the fall and winter. However, vulnerability isn’t seasonal - and both patients and healthcare workers should be safe from infectious diseases year-round.

As we head into spring, we’re calling on BC policymakers to maintain healthcare mask requirements, and to take practical steps to strengthen these protections:

  1. Maintain and enforce mask requirements in hospitals and long-term care settings year-round, for BC medical staff, contractors, visitors and volunteers.

  2. Restore mask requirements for patients, with reasonable exceptions and accommodations. Given that patients are often the ones who are sick and contagious in healthcare settings, a lack of patient masking increases infection risks in crowded waiting rooms, wards, and ERs.

  3. Improve airborne precautions including wider use of N95-equivalent masks (respirators). Following the lead of some European countries, consider making N95-equivalent masks the default - particularly by and around vulnerable patients, and certainly upon request. Respirators provide superior protection, especially as surgical masks aren’t designed to protect against airborne pathogens.

  4. Issue a clear directive to private and community healthcare settings requiring the same minimum mask coverage as government facilities. Vulnerable people also need ongoing access to primary care providers, dentists, paramedical practitioners, medical labs and imaging - and airborne illnesses are the same everywhere.

Take Action:

Email decision-makers today - then SHARE THIS CAMPAIGN and take further action:

👉 Leave phone messages saying we need to keep masks in healthcare. Get phone numbers and a phone script here.

👉 Send free faxes online, no fax machine needed. Get fax numbers and a faxable letter here.

👉 Send postcards - mail to Ministers and MLAs is free! Get free postcard art and mailing addresses here.

👉 Help amplify your impact by spreading the word on socials, or post a selfie with a sign to raise awareness!

Note: the Action Network platform requires a return address so the system can find your MLA. If you prefer not to enter your address, you also can use our template wording to email policy-makers yourself.

Yellow DoNoHarm BC graphic of a person in an N95 calling their MLA. Text in a speech bubble reads,

Why does this matter?

“If there is one space that all vulnerable people should be able to rely on to prioritize their safety, it is in healthcare settings, including long term care facilities…removal of universal masking directives in healthcare settings does not uphold a human rights centered approach to public health.”

- BC Human Rights Commissioner, April 3, 2023

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