March 19, 2020
The Honourable Patricia Hajdu, MP Minister of Health
The Honourable Adrian Dix, MLA Minister of Health
DTES COVID-19 Task Force
Open Letter re: URGENT - COVID-19 Response and Resources needed for the DTES
Dear Minister Hajdu, Minister Dix, and the City of Vancouver DTES COVID-19 Task Force,
Let me begin by acknowledging all of your efforts during this unprecedented period. As we all work to ensure vulnerable communities are provided the necessary support during this health emergency, I am writing with urgency with regard to the immediate need for a coordinated response and resources for the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the opioid crisis which has not abated. The situation in the Downtown Eastside is dire and we must act now to minimize the impact of COVID-19 in this extremely vulnerable community.
The Downtown Eastside is home to some of the most vulnerable people in Canada, including people who are homeless, inadequately housed, struggling with mental health challenges and managing addictions. The living conditions of the population mean that many actions that could help prevent the spread of the virus, such as self-isolation and aggressive hygiene practices, are not available to the community members. As such, once the virus touches down on the community, we know that the effect will be severe and devasting. It is therefore absolutely vital that we take steps now to prevent an outbreak in the community as well as to be prepared for what is to come.