One of the most fundamental beliefs we hold as a society is that we have a responsibility to keep our children safe. But right now, we are watching a desperate situation unfold in our hospitals as severe respiratory viruses make children sick at an alarming rate and overwhelm our already collapsing health care system.
We can see evidence of this crisis right here in our own community, as drugstores around the Cariboo continue to deal with significant shortages of children’s Tylenol due to increased demand. When stores are finally able to get the medicine in stock it sells out in a matter of hours.
Recently, as the result of brave parents and families sharing their stories, as well as the persistence of reporters, Health Minister (Adrian) Dix finally revealed the tragic news that six children in B.C. died from influenza in the past few weeks. This is a staggering number of little lives lost way too soon and I send my deepest sympathies and condolences to their loved ones.
Each life lost is a terrible tragedy, and it’s an indictment of the state of our health care system and another sign of the seriousness of this crisis. Across Canada, we typically see six children die from influenza in the space of a year, but we have reached that number in just the last month in B.C. alone.
The crisis is made even more concerning by the complete lack of transparency from government about the real extent of the problem. Even when Minister Dix held a press conference last week about the flu season, he didn’t reveal the high death rate we are seeing in B.C. In fact, government would not confirm this news until 6 p.m. on Thursday, and only then through a news release.
British Columbians deserve transparency — especially when it comes to the health of children and the state of our hospitals. It is not enough for government to simply check in every once in a while and tell us what we should be doing differently. We need to see our government taking the steps to address the critical issues facing our province, and delivering the results they have promised.
Right now, our hospitals are overwhelmed and children are dying. BC Children’s Hospital is struggling to keep up with the flood of sick children coming through its doors, staff are exhausted, and we have no children’s medicine on our pharmacy shelves. Talking is not enough — it’s time for government to do the work required and save kids’ lives.