OPEN LETTER to BC Minister of Health on personal protective equipment for DTES front-line workers

As organizations are not not able to get the PPE that they need, some folks in the Downtown Eastside have been sewing homemade fabric masks for community members and staff. While I applaud the spirit of community support, I am also worry that these homemade fabric masks may not meet medical standards and simple serve to provide a false sense of safety.
According to media reports, Dr. Patricia Daly is not providing a specific number on how many Covid 19 cases are confirmed in the Downtown Eastside and that we can assume COVID – 19 is “everywhere” in the Downtown Eastside. If this reporting is correct, everyone in the community including frontline workers are at a heightened level of risk of exposure to the virus. The stress and anxiety for the vulnerable community members and frontline workers is at an all-time high, and organizations are desperate to obtain protective equipment for their workers. Could you please advise if this is at all possible for these organizations? If yes, could you please also advise how and who the organizations should be in touch with to obtain the much needed resource?

"March 27, 2020

RE: Personal Protective Equipment for DTES Front-line Workers

Dear Minister Dix,

Let me preface this letter by acknowledging the tremendous work you’ve been doing during
these difficult times. I hope this letter finds you well and you and your staff are all in good health.

As you know, frontline non-profit organizations have been busy adapting their work and services to meet evolving community needs during the pandemic that we’re experiencing now. I have heard from many of the non-profits in my riding that city and provincial staff have been doing active outreach to which I am extremely grateful for.

On the federal front, I have been advocating for the resources that the non-profits have been expressing that they need. I have been informed that the Federal government's stock pile of medical equipment has been distributed to the provinces and territories and that the coordination of resource delivery will be done by the provincial government. However, as the pandemic continues, the NDP has called for the federal government to use all its powers to ramp up the production of medical supplies as we are very worry about equipment supply shortage.

From the organizations' on the ground in Vancouver East, the most pressing challenges are safe spaces and home for people in addition to personal protective equipment (PPE) for organizations still in operation. PPE such as medical face masks, eye goggles, hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes have been impossible to acquire. Additionally, many of the organizations have shut down their recreational programming and switching to food provision, and those organizations need take away containers.

As organizations are not not able to get the PPE that they need, some folks in the Downtown Eastside have been sewing homemade fabric masks for community members and staff. While I applaud the spirit of community support, I am also worry that these homemade fabric masks may not meet medical standards and simple serve to provide a false sense of safety.

According to media reports, Dr. Patricia Daly is not providing a specific number on how many Covid 19 cases are confirmed in the Downtown Eastside and that we can assume COVID – 19 is “everywhere” in the Downtown Eastside. If this reporting is correct, everyone in the community including frontline workers are at a heightened level of risk of exposure to the virus. The stress

and anxiety for the vulnerable community members and frontline workers is at an all-time high, and organizations are desperate to obtain protective equipment for their workers. Could you please advise if this is at all possible for these organizations? If yes, could you please also advise how and who the organizations should be in touch with to obtain the much needed resource?

As always, my office is available to assist in any way that we can.

Sincerely,
Jenny Kwan
Member of Parliament for Vancouver East

CC Minister Melanie Mark, MLA Vancouver Mt. Pleasant
CC Minister Shane Simpson, MLA Vancouver Hastings-Sunrise"
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