Locals gather at 'Right to Choose' sidewalk rally in opposition to pandemic mandates

Around 200 community members gathered together this afternoon in Ganges on Salt Spring Island in what organizers described as a 'Right to Choose' sidewalk rally. The event was intended to demonstrate solidarity with those who oppose mask and vaccine mandates being implemented by Federal and Provincial governments in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Demonstrators stood together along the Centennial Park pathway and Lower Ganges Road encouraging passing motorists and pedestrians to join them in their support of medical freedom and the right of choice in opposition to mask and vaccine mandates. Numerous protest signs with messages that included 'My body, my choice", "If the vaccine works, why the passports?", "No masks on kids", "Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of the truth.", "Stop medical tyranny, say no to mandatory vaccines" and more were carried by participants, many of whom hoped to raise awareness about what they see as the infringement of pe…
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Provincial government launches COVID-19 BC Vaccine Card

The Province is launching the BC Vaccine Card, a digital or printed document that shows the stage cardholders are at in their COVID-19 vaccine progress. The BC Vaccine Card will allow vaccinated people to conveniently and securely show their proof of vaccination at higher-risk social and recreational events and settings when new COVID-19 vaccine requirement rules take effect on Sept. 13, 2021. This will help increase vaccinations, while protecting people in these settings, keeping businesses open and allowing events to take place. “Getting vaccinated means we can bring people back together and do more, safely, and with confidence that we’re not putting those who aren’t fully vaccinated at risk,” said Premier John Horgan. “We have made the BC Vaccine Card easy for people to get, and easy for businesses to check at a glance. The card is a significant step in getting our economy running on all cylinders, and returning to social events safely with the confidence that those ar…
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Locally elected leadership make appeal to vaccine hesitant

Dear residents of Salt Spring Island, We understand that some Salt Springers are hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. We understand that your body is your own, and that we all look after our bodies in the ways we personally deem as important. This pandemic has shown us that we also have to look after one another. As neighbours, as family and friends, as Salt Springers and Gulf Islanders, we have come together to protect our communities for the past year and a half. We supported our healthcare and frontline workers with a nightly cheer. We checked in on each other when we were all asked to stay home. We are all exhausted by COVID-19, but the pandemic is not over. We are encouraging all our constituents to make community health a top priority by getting vaccinated. As of August 23rd, 71% of eligible Salt Springers have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Unfortunately, this is the second lowest in the Capital Region. Vaccines have dramatically reduced the…
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COVID-19: Mask mandate to reduce transmission, protect people in public spaces

As of Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces throughout B.C. to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 as B.C. prepares for the fall and respiratory illness season. A new order from the provincial health officer will require people 12 and older to wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. These settings include: malls, shopping centres, coffee shops and retail and grocery stores; liquor and drug stores; airports, city halls, libraries, community and recreation centres; restaurants, pubs and bars (unless seated); on public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle; areas of office buildings where services to the public are provided; common areas of sport and fitness centres when not engaged in physical activity; common areas of post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations; and inside schools for all K-12 staff, visitors and students in grades 4-12. This temporar…
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B.C. launches proof of vaccination to stop spread of COVID-19

Starting Sept. 13, 2021, proof of vaccination will be required in B.C. for people attending certain social and recreational settings and events. This important step will continue to increase the vaccination rate across the province and provide confidence to fully vaccinated people that those around them are also fully vaccinated. “Vaccines are our ticket to putting this pandemic behind us,” said Premier John Horgan. “So I call on all eligible unvaccinated British Columbians to roll up their sleeves to stop the spread, and help protect themselves, their loved ones and the people in their community. British Columbia has one of the strongest vaccination rates in Canada with 75% of eligible people now fully vaccinated, but there is still more work to do.” A new order from the provincial health officer will require individuals to provide proof of vaccination to access a broad range of social, recreational, and discretionary events and businesses throughout the province. As …
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COVID-19: Lady Minto Hospital Medical Staff Association - Salt Spring Not Exempt from 4th Wave

BC is in the fourth wave of the COVID pandemic and we on Salt Spring are not exempt. We continue to experience cases of new infection with COVID-19 although these have been confined to small clusters since the start of the pandemic. Salt Spring residents have embraced vaccination against COVID in large numbers although there continue to be those who are hesitant about getting vaccinated. Vaccination has allowed us to re-open our extended care unit and residential care facilities to residents and, along with the rest of BC, to remove the mandatory wearing of masks in indoor spaces. The Health Canada approved vaccines have proven to be safe and effective at preventing individuals who are exposed to COVID from developing severe illness. However, evidence has shown that while vaccines reduce the risk of virus infection, even vaccinated individuals can catch the COVID virus. The Delta variant is much more highly contagious and asymptomatic, vaccinated individuals can carry a high…
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Island Health prepares to transition mass immunization clinic operations

After eight months of intense work to immunize as many people as possible against COVID-19, Island Health is preparing to scale back mass immunization clinics - but not before making it easier than ever to be fully vaccinated. For maximum convenience, anyone in need of vaccination can simply find a nearby clinic and walk in without an appointment for their first or second dose. Appointments are also readily available for people who prefer that option, and expert immunizers are ready and willing to support anyone who needs extra time or accommodation during their appointment. “The COVID-19 immunization effort in Island Health and across the province has been a monumental undertaking,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer. “Thanks to the exceptional dedication of Island Health staff and physicians, the unwavering support of community partners and, most importantly, each individual’s commitment to protecting themselves and others from infec…
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COVID Recovery Grants Announced

Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Covid Emergency Preparedness and Relief Fund, the Salt Spring Island Foundation announces a grand total $237,548 has been awarded in contribution to the many innovative pandemic relief, recovery and re-start efforts in our community. "The Foundation's Pandemic Impact Survey revealed priority needs among island charities related to re-building volunteer, staffing and fundraising networks in order to thrive during the Public Health phased re-start. In response, the Foundation Board offered Covid Recovery funding as a means for SSI charities, and any non-profits working in partnership with qualified donees, to move through this final phase of the pandemic and to build their community work anew," stated Sandra Heath, the Foundation's Grants Advisory Committee Chair. The Salt Spring Island Foundation made a call for applications for up to fifteen Covid Recovery Grant awards of up to $5,000 per community organization for projects that a…
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MLA Adam Olsen on vaccine roll-out and the exclusion of Salt Spring Island from the ‘Whole Community Approach’

As the provincial vaccine roll-out continues, it is important that all community members have the correct information about current COVID-19 protocols and vaccinations. We encourage everyone to register for a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Over the past few weeks, my office has been receiving many questions from constituents regarding current COVID-19 restrictions and what the rules are around travel. Restrictions have changed as of May 25th. The government has introduced a 4 step BC Restart plan and we are now currently in Step 1. Step 1 means that outdoor personal gatherings of up to 10 people and indoor gatherings with up to 5 visitors or 1 other household are allowed. Indoor low intensity group exercise is also allowed while indoor high intensity group exercise remains prohibited. Indoor and outdoor dining is now allowed with capacity limits based on physical distancing. There is a maximum of 6 people allowed at a table which is not restricted to your househ…
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COVID-19: B.C. launches restart plan to safely bring people back together

With more than 60% of adults vaccinated with their first dose and COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations steadily declining, British Columbia is moving forward with the cautious first step of a four-step plan for a careful and safe restart. “British Columbians have sacrificed so much over the last 15 months to help keep people and our communities safe,” said Premier John Horgan. “We have made tremendous strides with our vaccination program, and we are now in a position where we can move forward with a plan to slowly bring us back together. As we have done throughout this pandemic, we will be closely following the guidance of public health and supporting people and businesses as we take the next steps in putting this pandemic behind us.” BC’s Restart – a four-step plan to bring B.C. back together will be a slow and gradual return to a more normal life, with safety and health protocols such as mask wearing and physical distancing remaining in place and mandatory during t…
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BC Ferries reminds customers travel restrictions Order in effect

In advance of the May long weekend, which is typically a popular travel time, BC Ferries is reminding customers that the Province’s travel restrictions Order remains in effect and travel is limited to essential reasons only. No additional sailings are scheduled this long weekend. BC Ferries continues to deny travel to customers travelling for non-essential reasons on routes crossing regional zones as defined in the Order announced on April 23, 2021. This affects the following routes: Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay Tsawwassen – Duke Point Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay Comox – Powell River Port Hardy – Prince Rupert Customers travelling on these routes are asked if their travel is essential, and denied passage if it is not essential. Customers travelling on routes that operate within the same regional zone are reminded they should be avoiding non-essential travel at this time. The Province defines situations that qualify as es…
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Unpaid COVID-19 fines may lead to driver’s, vehicle licence denial

People who leave COVID-19 fines unpaid may be unable to obtain or renew a B.C. driver’s licence or vehicle licence under proposed legislation introduced today. “That small minority of persons who have been fined for violating the rules in place to protect us all are going to be held accountable for the debt they owe,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We’ve already moved up the deadline for sending unpaid COVID-19 fines to collections. Now, we’re going to refuse to issue offenders a driver’s licence or vehicle licence if they still won’t take their tickets seriously and pay up.” If passed, proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act will extend “refuse to issue” (RTI) restrictions to fines issued under the Emergency Program Act and COVID-19 Related Measures Act. RTI will apply to all outstanding fines issued under these acts and will be applied retroactively. People with outstanding fines will receive notice of the RTI from ICBC ahead…
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Island Health thanks nurses for answering the call

It is fitting that the Canadian Nurses’ Association theme for National Nursing Week May 10-16 is “We Answer the Call.” From day one of this unparalleled and extraordinary COVID-19 pandemic that has enveloped our world for over a year, nurses have continued to stand where they always do – caring for patients, families and communities when they need it the most. Nurses are in every part of our health and care system. In hospitals, long-term care homes, public health units, clients’ homes, testing centres, vaccination clinics, undertaking cutting-edge COVID-19 research, and leading pandemic response from boardroom to point of care, nurses unique contribution to the health and wellness of our region is ever-present. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light more than ever the professionalism, wisdom, knowledge, skill, and compassion that nurses bring to work everyday and the important roles they play in our communities. “While the pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, …
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Salt Spring RCMP investigating mischief to Island Health signs

On April 24th, 2021 the Salt Spring RCMP received a complaint of several signs that had been vandalized during the previous night by unknown persons. Frontline members arrived and found that the signs all belonged to Vancouver Island Health Authority, and had been spray painted with different messages. The signs were all in place for the COVID-19 immunization clinic in the area of Jackson Ave on Salt Spring Island. "Whether this mischief was meant to be a nuisance, a political statement or otherwise is irrelevant says Salt Spring RCMP Detachment Commander Clive Seabrook. We are in the middle of a pandemic and this mischief is 100% unnecessary. I’m proud to stand alongside the health care professionals who are working very hard here for the residents of Salt Spring Island." Salt Spring RCMP members continue to following up on several leads to determine who caused the mischief. If you know anything about this incident please call the Salt Spring RCMP at (250) 537-5555.
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COVID-19: Health-care workers make appeal for help

The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is here and like all of us, our health-care teams are ready to put the pandemic behind them. For more than a year, public health teams, medical staff, staff and care providers across Island Health have focused their energies on preventing and managing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, and keeping you and your loved ones safe. This unprecedented effort continues, in addition to other important, everyday health-care needs beyond the pandemic. You can help by following public health orders and guidelines. As the detailed April 16 presentation from the Province showed, COVID-19 cases remain high in our communities and we are seeing an increasing presence of the new Variants of Concern. Our Public Health teams are working long hours in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities through testing and collection, case and contact management, and vaccinations. But our health-care teams are tired. Many are on the verg…
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COVID-19: BC Ferries passengers will be asked if their travel is essential, and denied passage if it is not essential

Starting immediately, in support of the provincial travel restrictions Order announced today by the Province, BC Ferries will deny travel to customers travelling for non-essential reasons on routes crossing regional zones as defined in the Order. This affects the following routes: Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay Tsawwassen – Duke Point Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay Comox – Powell River Port Hardy – Prince Rupert Customers travelling on these routes will be asked if their travel is essential, and denied passage if it is not essential. Customers travelling on routes that operate within the same regional zone will be reminded they should be avoiding non-essential travel at this time. The Province defines situations that qualify as essential travel here. “BC Ferries supports doing everything we can to discourage non-essential travel, and this Order gives us the legal authority we need to deny travel for non-essential reasons,” sa…
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COVID-19: Province introduces travel restrictions to curb spread

To help keep communities safe and protect British Columbia’s health-care system from COVID-19, the Province is introducing travel restrictions that limit non-essential travel in B.C. On the advice of Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer (PHO), Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has issued a new order using the extraordinary powers of the Emergency Program Act to prohibit non-essential travel between three regional zones in the province, using health authority boundaries. The regional zones are: Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Coastal Health regions); Vancouver Island (Island Health region); and Northern/Interior (Interior Health and Northern Health regions). While the order puts legal limits only on travel between regional zones, the PHO’s guidance remains unchanged throughout B.C.: everyone should continue to stay within their local community – essential travel only. This order will be in effec…
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COVID-19: New vaccine schedule invites those 18+ to register this week

More than 1.8 million British Columbians will be invited to register for their COVID-19 vaccine in the week ahead as B.C.’s Get Vaccinated program moves forward. A new schedule for age cohorts to register ensures people know when it is their turn. To preserve system capacity, please wait until your age cohort is eligible to register: Monday, April 19 – Registration opens for people aged 40 and up Tuesday, April 20 – Registration opens for people aged 35 and up Wednesday, April 21 – Registration opens for people aged 30 and up Thursday, April 22 – Registration opens for people aged 25 and up Friday, April 23 – Registration opens for people aged 18 and up The fastest way to register is online. To register, people need their personal health number(found on their CareCard or on the back of their driver’s licence or BC Services Card), their postal code, first and last name, date of birth and an email address that gets checked regularly or a phone number tha…
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COVID-19: Local Impact and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Individuals

The COVID pandemic has entered its third wave in BC, and Salt Spring is not immune to that trend. The good news is that immunizations continue at an increasing pace with the community vaccination clinic at ArtSpring providing vaccinations to adults based on age and other eligibility criteria. All adults can now register to be vaccinated although actual bookings for vaccination appointments are based on age cohorts. Information on registration for vaccination is available on the Island Health website. Individuals who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) due to specified underlying health conditions should have received individualized letters inviting them to register for prioritized booking for vaccination. The list of designation conditions to qualify as CEV is available on the Island Health and BC government websites. If you believe you qualify and did not receive a letter, please follow the instructions on the website to contact the registration and booking center to …
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COVID-19: What are the 3 steps to getting the vaccine on Salt Spring Island?

Here are the 3 steps for getting the COVID-19 vaccine on Salt Spring Island. The hours of operation at the ArtSpring clinic are Sunday to Thursday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM. Step 1: Register Register online, by phone at (833) 838-2323 or in person at any Service BC office. First, you register and get a confirmation number. You need that number to later book your vaccination appointment. Registering also helps health authorities request the right amount of vaccine doses for each community. Once your age group becomes eligible, you will receive an email, text or phone call advising that you can book an appointment. Step 2: Book an appointment You will be contacted to book a vaccine appointment when you are eligible based on your age and our Immunization Plan phases.

You will book your appointment online or by phone. You will select a location, date and time.

Step 3: Get the vaccine Visit your local vaccine clinic to get vaccinated. …
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COVID-19: People aged 55+ invited to register for vaccine

A new vaccine registration schedule will provide certainty for more than 1.3 million British Columbians aged 40 and older, as B.C.’s Get Vaccinated program moves forward. A new schedule for age cohorts to register ensures people know when it is their turn: Monday, April 12 – registration opens for people aged 55 and up Wednesday, April 14 – registration opens for people aged 50 and up Friday, April 16 – registration opens for people aged 45 and up Monday, April 19 – registration opens for people aged 40 and up The fastest and most effective way to register is online. Registering online takes approximately two minutes. People need their personal health number (found on their CareCard or on the back of their driver’s licence or BC Services Card), postal code, first and last name, date of birth and an email address that gets checked regularly or a phone number that can receive text messages to register. Registration is the first step. Once registered, peo…
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