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COVID, Horgan, vaccines and outbreaks: B.C.’s top political stories of 2021

Click to play video: 'Trudeau under fire for not visiting Kamloops on Truth and Reconciliation Day' Trudeau under fire for not visiting Kamloops on Truth and Reconciliation Day
Prime Minister Trudeau is under fire tonight for not attending today's ceremony in Kamloops, despite the fact that First Nations leaders say they invited him. As Jordan Armstrong reports, the Prime Minister did arrive in B.C. today. Our cameras caught up with him as he walked along the beach in Tofino where he's vacationing with his family. – Oct 1, 2021

“In 21st century America, everything is political.” Those are the words of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

In a year, 2021, where British Columbia went from being on fire to being underwater, it is hard not to think those words apply here as well.

In a news sense, it was the busiest year anyone has ever experienced. In a societal sense, it was a year that fundamentally will shape the province forever.

These are the top ‘political’ stories of 2021.

But they are only classified as political because the government was involved in supporting communities after the discovery of more than 200 unmarked burial sites in Kamloops to the more than 500 heat-related deaths from floods to fires to COVID.

In time we will be able to better reflect on the events of 2021 and how we will learn from a year that has changed us all forever.

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COVID-19 vaccine queue jumpers

Remember back to a time where COVID-19 vaccines were hard to come by.

Where we were living under strict restrictions where loved ones were banned from visiting each other if they lived in separate homes.

Then think of Rod Baker and his wife Ekaterina. Baker, the former head of Great Canadian Gaming, and his wife boarded a flight to the Yukon, skipped the line and received a COVID-19 vaccine far earlier than he was eligible in Vancouver.

Read more: Wealthy B.C. couple who jumped COVID vaccine queue in the Yukon plead guilty, issued fines

The Bakers were eventually each fined $1,150 – $500 for each charge plus a $75 surcharge. They will not serve any time in jail.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver couple sentenced for vaccine queue jumping in the Yukon' Vancouver couple sentenced for vaccine queue jumping in the Yukon
Vancouver couple sentenced for vaccine queue jumping in the Yukon – Jun 16, 2021

Vaccine roll out

There is a lot to unpack here and there will be lots of other news events linked to the vaccine rollout on this list.

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This is about the way British Columbia went about vaccinating the general population. By the beginning of 2021, only the most vulnerable and those working in health care had received a COVID-19 vaccine.

By July everyone who wanted a vaccine had been offered one.

The province largely used mass clinics, opting not to vaccinate people in pharmacies or doctor’s offices. The clinics were in arenas, community centres and convention centres.

Click to play video: 'B.C. stays the course on booster shots' B.C. stays the course on booster shots
B.C. stays the course on booster shots – Dec 4, 2021

Read more: B.C. to accelerate vaccine booster plan in January as Omicron variant spreads

Telus line crashes

It was inevitable the vaccine roll-out was not going to be perfect. As the province was getting ready to unveil an online booking system, it put in place phone lines for all five health authorities to bridge the gap.

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On the first day, things went well in Fraser Health. They went well in Interior Health. They went well in Northern Health and they went well in Island Health.

In Coastal Health, they were a disaster. The Telus phone lines crashed and only a few hundred people were even able to book an appointment.

The two-day snafu was eventually resolved, people got their shots and the company was forced to apologize publically.

Click to play video: 'Telus issues apology for issues with B.C. COVID-19 vaccination centre phone lines' Telus issues apology for issues with B.C. COVID-19 vaccination centre phone lines
Telus issues apology for issues with B.C. COVID-19 vaccination centre phone lines – Mar 9, 2021

Read more: Province scrambling to fix vaccination phone line problems for Vancouver Coastal Health

Vaccine ‘Hunger Games’

It was British Columbia’s hottest commodity: a COVID-19 vaccine.

In order to provide more access to the vaccine, Fraser Health arranged various pop-up clinics in Surrey, Coquitlam and other areas. Eligible British Columbians could show up, get in line, and get a vaccine.

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But things did not work as well as the health authority had hoped.

BC Liberal critic Renee Merrifield compared the pop-ups to the Hunger Games.

Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee apologized for the anger and confusion created after the pilot resulted in lineups where many waited for hours and still didn’t get vaccinated.

The province announced it would not hold any more pop-up clinics.

Click to play video: 'Huge lines for Surrey COVID-19 vaccination clinics that didn’t happen' Huge lines for Surrey COVID-19 vaccination clinics that didn’t happen
Huge lines for Surrey COVID-19 vaccination clinics that didn’t happen – Apr 29, 2021

Read more: Pop-up vaccine clinics in Metro Vancouver aim to boost slumping 1st dose numbers

Essential workers list – teachers eventually added

The word essential has taken on new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province was forced to actually define what it meant and because of that who should get access to vaccines first.

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The term essential became such a problem the province started classifying the group as priority workers instead.

The province originally designed a list with the intention of focusing the AstraZeneca vaccine on essential workers. But when the vaccine was associated with rare blood clots, they decided to pivot to using mRNA vaccines instead.

Read more: British Columbia prioritizing teachers, child-care staff and first responders for COVID shot

Eventually, the priority list was settled.

It included first responders including police and firefighters, K-12 educational staff, child-care staff, grocery store workers, postal workers.

But with the delays, those on that list only started receiving the priority shot by May. The province was forced to actually speed up some priority workers, including Surrey school staff because they were in COVID hotspots.

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s front line and essential workers move to the front of the line' B.C.’s front line and essential workers move to the front of the line
B.C.’s front line and essential workers move to the front of the line – Mar 18, 2021

Masks in classrooms put in place

This isn’t the first time masks will appear on this list. They have become a symbol for many people of the pandemic.

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One place where masks were resisted for a long time was in B.C.’s school system. While mandates were in place in indoor, public places and encouraged in workplaces they were not required for kids in the school system.

After intense pressure through March and into spring break, the province announced at the end of March masks would be required for kids grades 4 to 12.

Then after speculation during the summer, the province would drop the mask requirement for the start of the school year, the province announced in late August masks would be back for September. But once again the mandate was only for those grades 4 to 12.

Read more: Masks mandatory for all K-12 students in B.C. schools 

The argument was made kindergarten to Grade 3 students would not wear the masks properly and they would be distracted.

After a strong push from the teacher’s union and others, the province announced in October everyone in the school system would need to wear a mask.

Click to play video: 'Day one of K-3 school mask mandate in B.C.' Day one of K-3 school mask mandate in B.C.
Day one of K-3 school mask mandate in B.C – Oct 4, 2021

School returns to ‘near-normal’

British Columbia prides itself on being the only jurisdiction in Canada that from September 2020 to now has kept the doors open to in-person schooling.

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There have been snags, a handful of schools closed due to COVID outbreaks, or staffing shortages due to the spread of the virus.

In June, the province triumphantly announced a return to ‘near-normal’ for students in the system. This would mean getting rid of the cohort system and bringing back extracurricular activities like sports, assemblies, arts and drama.

Read more: COVID-19: B.C. planning for ‘near-normal’ return for K-to-12 students this fall

There was no virtual option offered broadly to students and at the time the province left the door open to dropping masks as well.

Wen COVID cases kicked up in the summer, the province decided to bring masks back.

Click to play video: 'Dr. Bonnie Henry on some high school students gathering and mixing cohorts' Dr. Bonnie Henry on some high school students gathering and mixing cohorts
Dr. Bonnie Henry on some high school students gathering and mixing cohorts – Sep 28, 2020

Vancouver Canucks Outbreaks

Adam Gaudette’s most memorable feat as a Vancouver Canuck is likely the fact he was the player who was the first COVID-19 case during the team’s outbreak.

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In March, Gaudette was pulled from the ice during practice after testing positive for the virus. The team was still dealing with intense COVID protocols because no one had been vaccinated yet.

In the end the Canucks said 25 players and coaches tested positive in a COVID-19 outbreak involving the Delta variant. It was at a time when little was known about Delta and the team was unsure about the extent the variant had to play with such rapid spread.

In the end, the team postponed six games.

The team had a second outbreak in December, driven by the Omicron variant. So far, it has led to four games being postponed. Half of those games were postponed due to league-wide restrictions on cross-border travel.

Read more: Vancouver Canucks’ Adam Gaudette enters COVID-19 protocol after testing positive for coronavirus

Click to play video: 'NHL scraps weekend Canucks games as spread of Omicron shuts down B.C. events' NHL scraps weekend Canucks games as spread of Omicron shuts down B.C. events
NHL scraps weekend Canucks games as spread of Omicron shuts down B.C. events – Dec 18, 2021

Whistler COVID-19 spread

It was one of the province’s hottest COVID-19 spots. Through January more than 300 cases of the virus were detected in the resort community.

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Making of the cases linked to communal living among staff.

As cases went up, the community started to plead for access to vaccines. The province started focusing on the community.

But it wasn’t enough. Spring break and the Delta variant arrived near the same time, leading to severe outbreaks in the community. Ultimately the province left with no choice and shut Whistler-Blackcomb down but waited until after the popular spring break.

From the beginning of the year to March 28, there were 1,120 recorded cases of the virus in the mountain community.

Click to play video: 'Proof of vaccination required to hit some B.C. slopes. Whistler Blackcomb isn’t one of them' Proof of vaccination required to hit some B.C. slopes. Whistler Blackcomb isn’t one of them
Proof of vaccination required to hit some B.C. slopes. Whistler Blackcomb isn’t one of them – Nov 10, 2021

Read more: COVID-19 transmission slowing in Whistler with 614 cases recorded in 2021

Extending the gap to 16 weeks between vaccine doses

At the time it was led to panic. British Columbia was the first jurisdiction to announce plans to extend the gap between first and second doses to 16 weeks.

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COVID-19 cases were climbing and then people were told they were going to have to wait longer for the second dose of the vaccine.

Doubts were amplified with Henry’s decision when Canada’s chief science adviser Mona Nemer publicly questioned B.C.’s decision to extend the gap calling it a population-level experiment.

In the end, the science proved Henry was right all along. The gap proved to not only allow more people to receive the first dose in the early stages of the vaccine plan but also proved to provide greater effectiveness against preventing severe outcomes from the virus.

Read more: B.C. rolls out COVID-19 vaccination plan for those over 80 and extends time between doses

As more doses of the vaccine became available, the province eventually decreased the gap between first and second doses. Eventually, many British Columbians received a vaccine at an eight-week gap in areas where transmission of the virus was high.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Why is British Columbia waiting for rapid tests, will the gap between vaccines boosters be shortened?' COVID-19: Why is British Columbia waiting for rapid tests, will the gap between vaccines boosters be shortened?
COVID-19: Why is British Columbia waiting for rapid tests, will the gap between vaccines boosters be shortened? – Dec 15, 2021

Record-breaking illicit drug deaths and decriminalization

In October, the BC Coroners Service found 201 people died from suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths. It was the province’s deadliest month on record in terms of overdose deaths.

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The 1,782 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths between January and October this year are also the highest ever recorded in a calendar year. The previous high was 1,765 deaths for all of 2020.

The surge in deaths is linked in part to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and an increasingly toxic drug supply. But advocates have been pressuring the province to put in new rules, amend the laws and increase additional supports.

Read more: B.C. records deadliest month due to illicit drug overdoses in province’s history

In November, the province asked the federal government for an exemption from criminal penalties for people who possess small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use.

Click to play video: 'B.C. reports 201 toxic drug overdose deaths in October' B.C. reports 201 toxic drug overdose deaths in October
B.C. reports 201 toxic drug overdose deaths in October – Dec 9, 2021

Paid sick days

It has been one of the mantras of the pandemic: If you are sick, stay home.

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But for many workers, it wasn’t possible. About half of B.C. employees do not have access to paid sick leave and Henry was clear people were going to work sick and getting others sick.

In order to try to keep people at home, the provincial government introduced temporary paid sick days for people with COVID-19 symptoms.

The temporary program eventually became permanent.

All workers in B.C. will be eligible for five days of sick pay as of Jan. 1, the province. Businesses will be legally required to provide the days to their employees.

Read more: B.C. becomes first province to introduce five days of permanent paid sick leave

The BC Federation of Labour advocated for 10 days of leave, arguing that other OECD countries like Australia, New Zealand and Sweden meet that bar or surpass it.

Horgan’s government settled on five days after assessing the impacts of the province’s temporary three-day program.

Click to play video: 'Starting in January all B.C. workers will be eligible for five sick days a year' Starting in January all B.C. workers will be eligible for five sick days a year
Starting in January all B.C. workers will be eligible for five sick days a year – Nov 25, 2021

Residential school remains

“I want all of us to live with the burden.”

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Those were the words of Horgan just a few days after the remains of 215 children were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Horgan spoke on the floor of the B.C. legislature in a ministerial statement as the country grappled with the reality of the discovery.

Read more: ‘I want all of us to live with the burden:’ B.C. premier on remains of 215 children found at former residential school

Horgan said British Columbians are “proud people” who have “done extraordinary things together,” but that we also have done “atrocious things together, and collectively, we have a responsibility to face that head-on.”

The discovery led to calls from First Nations across the province for help from the province to search for more unmarked burial sites and calls for Ottawa to release residential school records.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau was invited multiple times to go to Kamloops to visit the site. He skipped a trip on the National Day of Reconciliation opting to vacation in Tofino.

After apologizing, Trudeau visited Kamloops and promised to release all of the records.

Click to play video: 'Mixed reaction from B.C. chiefs to Trudeau’s visit to Kamloops, B.C.' Mixed reaction from B.C. chiefs to Trudeau’s visit to Kamloops, B.C.
Mixed reaction from B.C. chiefs to Trudeau’s visit to Kamloops, B.C – Oct 18, 2021

British Columbia’s restart

It was the shining light, at the end of the tunnel.

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The B.C. Government unveiled in May, after months of aggressive vaccination and the third wave of COVID-19, a plan to get back to some semblance of normalcy.

Read more: COVID-19: B.C. lays out restart plan including a return to normal by September

The plan was based on a few metrics: declining COVID-19 cases, low rates of hospitalization and death from COVID and increasing vaccination.

The first three steps went well. Highlighted by the decision to drop mask mandates, encourage travel across the country, return to normal personal gatherings inside and outside and increase capacity for all organized events on July 1.

But the fourth stage has largely eluded British Columbia, and most other jurisdictions in the world. The plan was for B.C. to drop capacity limits and largely get back to normal in September. That hasn’t happened yet.

Click to play video: 'July 1st in B.C. is also start of Step 3 of COVID-19 restart plan' July 1st in B.C. is also start of Step 3 of COVID-19 restart plan
July 1st in B.C. is also start of Step 3 of COVID-19 restart plan – Jul 1, 2021

Omicron arrives and new restrictions

Omicron arrived in B.C. and spread quickly.

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The new strain of the COVID-19 variant led to record-breaking virus cases and forced government to amend restrictions.

The new restrictions include a cap on personal social gatherings, a cancellation of organized events and the closure of businesses like gyms and bars.

Click to play video: 'Covid-19: New restrictions now in effect in British Columbia' Covid-19: New restrictions now in effect in British Columbia
Covid-19: New restrictions now in effect in British Columbia – Dec 23, 2021

There are still a lot of questions about the highly transmissible variant but it is clear it will disrupt parts of society and the health-care system.

B.C. was the first jurisdiction to lay out plans for a booster shot program and is already trying to get some age groups fast-tracked due in part to Omicron.

Central Okanagan surge

The first major sign the pandemic wasn’t behind British Columbians was the surge of cases in the Okanagan.

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After a July of close to normal, COVID-19 cases started to surge in Central Okanagan. At one point Kelowna and surrounding areas accounted for more than half of the new cases in the province.

The rising cases put pressure on the local hospital system and forced the province to act.

Henry, for the first time, put in very significant regional restrictions. Provincial health brought back a regional order instituting a mask mandate for indoor public spaces and pushing people away from organizing indoor social gatherings.

Read more: B.C. officials announce Central Okanagan restrictions following COVID-19 surge in Interior Health

The Okanagan served as a sign of things to come. In areas where vaccination rates were low, COVID cases were going to come.

Click to play video: 'Perspective on new COVID-19 restrictions in Central Okanagan' Perspective on new COVID-19 restrictions in Central Okanagan
Perspective on new COVID-19 restrictions in Central Okanagan – Jul 28, 2021

Vaccine card

As the pandemic shifted to a pandemic of the unvaccinated, demand started to grow from many sectors to ease restrictions for those who had received COVID-19 vaccines.

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All of that led to B.C. becoming the third province to require proof of vaccine and second to loosen restrictions for almost all “discretionary” services in the province linked to vaccination status.

Read more: B.C. becomes third province to require proof of vaccination, starting Sept. 13

The vaccine card was phased in, first requiring a single dose of the vaccine to go to a gym or eat a restaurant and eventually a requirement by the end of October to be fully vaccinated against COVID.

“Vaccines are our ticket to putting this pandemic behind us,” Horgan said at the time.

Click to play video: 'Global News Hour at 6 BC: Sept. 27' Global News Hour at 6 BC: Sept. 27
Global News Hour at 6 BC: Sept. 27 – Sep 27, 2021

In conjunction with the vaccine card, the province eventually dropped capacity limits for concerts, sporting events, restaurants and organized events for most regions.

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Read more: B.C.’s vaccine card comes into effect Monday. Here’s what you need to know

The plan is to reassess the vaccine card program in January but the expectation is it will continue being used until COVID cases go down more significantly.

Vaccine mandates

Other than in social gatherings, workplaces have long been the place where British Columbians were most likely to get COVID-19 and spread the virus.

There were no places of higher concern than hospitals and long-term care facilities.

This is in part why the province decided to put in place vaccine mandates to require all workers in long-term care, assisted living and acute care had been vaccinated against COVID-19.

So far, more than 98 per cent of health workers have been vaccinated but it also meant around 3,000 workers were fired because they refused to get the shot.

Click to play video: 'B.C. announces expansion of vaccine mandate for health care workers' B.C. announces expansion of vaccine mandate for health care workers
B.C. announces expansion of vaccine mandate for health care workers – Sep 13, 2021

The mandates have now been extended to the B.C. public service and the largest crown corporations have also required their staff to get the vaccine.

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Where the vaccine is not required is in the province’s school system. The province decided to leave the decision in the hands of school boards.

So far, no school boards have decided to require school staff to get a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment.

Hospital and school COVID-19 protests

Protesters opposed to COVID-19 protocols and vaccine mandates gathered at several B.C. hospitals on Sept. 1 for what they billed as a “worldwide walkout” for “health freedom.”

The protests were met by nearly universal condemnation for impacting day-to-day health services people in the province were hoping to receive.

Read more: COVID-19: Protesters target several B.C. hospitals, decry vaccine ‘tyranny’

“There is distress — a feeling that this was just beyond the pale in terms of the nature of the protests and where they happened,” Doctors of B.C. president Matthew Chow said at the time.

The protests also happened at schools and vaccination clinics.

Due to the protests, British Columbia moved to put in legislation banning protests disrupting services at hospitals, schools and vaccine or testing centres.

Read more: ‘It’s despicable’: Reaction pours in after protesters target B.C. hospitals over ‘health freedom’

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Click to play video: 'Backlash and anger after anti-vaccine protestors target B.C. hospitals' Backlash and anger after anti-vaccine protestors target B.C. hospitals
Backlash and anger after anti-vaccine protestors target B.C. hospitals – Sep 2, 2021

Deferring old growth

With protests continuing in Fairy Creek, the province announced first a temporary ban on foresting old-growth trees in certain areas and then a full ban on cutting down trees in some swaths of old-growth forest.

Read more: British Columbia moves to defer old growth forests within 2.6 million hectares of land

B.C. is finishing the year in the midst of working with First Nations to harvest ancient, rare and priority large stands of trees within 2.6-million hectares of B.C.͛s most at-risk old-growth forests.

The approach is based on recommendations provided in the Old Growth Strategic Review.

The forestry industry describes the move as crippling a sector already struggling. While some environmental groups argued the change did not protect enough of the province’s largest and oldest trees.

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Read more: The story behind the viral photo of a massive old-growth tree on a B.C. highway

Click to play video: 'Viral photo of big log gets international attention' Viral photo of big log gets international attention
Viral photo of big log gets international attention – May 27, 2021

Heat Dome

It was a bad choice of words.

Horgan described hundreds of deaths linked to a June heatwave as ‘part of life’. The premier eventually clarified his comments and sent condolences to those who died in the record-breaking temperatures.

Click to play video: 'B.C. summer heatwave deemed deadliest weather event in Canadian history.' B.C. summer heatwave deemed deadliest weather event in Canadian history.
B.C. summer heatwave deemed deadliest weather event in Canadian history – Sep 18, 2021

The province was widely criticized for not providing enough information to the public about the potential severity of the heat. Horgan even said ‘the public was acutely aware that we had a heat problem’.

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The BC Coroners Service assessed at least 595 people died because of the record-breaking temperatures.

Read more: At least 595 people in B.C. died from summer heat wave, coroners service says

The largest number of deaths — at least 526 — were recorded from June 25 to July 1, when a heat-dome weather event led to the mercury hitting the high 30s and low 40s in numerous communities.

Lytton burns down

“Literally nothing left.”

That is the way Horgan described the village of Lytton after flying over what remained of the community.

Following three days of recording the hottest temperatures in Canadian history, a fire broke out in Lytton destroying the town.

Read more: ‘Helplessness’ in Lytton, B.C. says mayor, as residents question findings on devastating wildfire

The fire killed two residents and left the rest of the town homeless.

Many residents have struggled to access supports from the province and the timeline is still unclear on when the community will be rebuilt.

Click to play video: 'New ground-level look at Lytton devastation after  wildfire' New ground-level look at Lytton devastation after wildfire
New ground-level look at Lytton devastation after wildfire – Jul 7, 2021

Wildfires state of emergency

For the third time in five years, the B.C. government declared a provincial state of emergency connected to wildfires.

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Read more: B.C. declares provincial state of emergency due to wildfires

The province waited until late July to declare the state of emergency, receiving criticism for not calling it earlier.

The destruction from the fires hit its peak in August as flames forced highways to close and communities to evacuate. There were worries communities like Armstrong would be destroyed by flames as winds picked up.

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Premier John Horgan announces provincial state of emergency due to floods' B.C. floods: Premier John Horgan announces provincial state of emergency due to floods
B.C. floods: Premier John Horgan announces provincial state of emergency due to floods – Nov 17, 2021

Floods and the crippling impacts

A year of devastating weather-related events hit a crippling peak in November.

Relentless rain and storms led to extensive flooding in large parts of the province and destroyed part of the province’s highway system.

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Read more: Environment Canada issues first ‘red level alert’ ahead of back-to-back storms in B.C.

The province declared a state of emergency and vowed to ‘build back better’ after the town of Merritt was left underwater, Princeton was forced to evacuate and the Coquihalla highway was destroyed.

Five people died due to a landslide between Pemberton and Lillooet. One person is still missing, presumed dead.

Click to play video: 'Global News Hour at 6 BC: Nov. 15' Global News Hour at 6 BC: Nov. 15
Global News Hour at 6 BC: Nov. 15 – Nov 15, 2021

The floods and impacts to the road network had substantial impacts across the province. The government announced gas rationing due to the Trans Mountain pipeline being shut down.

The province called in the Canadian Armed Forces to help in Abbotsford and other communities struggling to manage the storm.

Banning interprovincial travel – hotels, and roads

The tourism sector bore the brunt of so many of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions. But with a hope things would be getting better, in April they got worse.

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The province put in place an interprovincial ban on travel, splitting the province up into three large regions. Travellers were banned from going from one region to the next in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID.

Read more: COVID: B.C. to implement random roadside checks to restrict provincial travel

The restrictions were in place through to the middle of June and were supported by rules urging hotels to cancel bookings from outside the travel regions.

The industry was largely supportive, cancelling bookings from people coming from other areas including out of province.

Click to play video: 'Authorities are monitoring B.C.’s roads and crossings to enforce the travel ban this May long weekend' Authorities are monitoring B.C.’s roads and crossings to enforce the travel ban this May long weekend
Authorities are monitoring B.C.’s roads and crossings to enforce the travel ban this May long weekend – May 21, 2021

There was also an encouragement to not travel anywhere, no matter if it was in your health region or not. This included attempting to stop people from going from Vancouver to Whistler.

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Cases surge in the North

Low vaccination rates, minimal restrictions, high COVID-19 case counts. It has been a chain of events seen in jurisdictions around the world and was replicated in Northern B.C.

The situation became so dire in Northern Health patients were flown from the local ICU to intensive care units in other parts of the province.

Click to play video: 'Close to 100 patients transferred from northern B.C. hospitals' Close to 100 patients transferred from northern B.C. hospitals
Close to 100 patients transferred from northern B.C. hospitals – Nov 3, 2021

More than 100 people were flown out of the region, a vast majority were unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

Kids get vaccinated

It took until the last day of November, but finally, kids five to 11 years old started getting vaccinated in British Columbia.

Due to the impacts of the floods, B.C. delayed by a few days getting the vaccine to kids.

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All Canadian kids are required to wait as Health Canada launched an extensive review into the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine for the age group.

Click to play video: 'Health Canada to approve Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11' Health Canada to approve Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11
Health Canada to approve Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11 – Nov 18, 2021

For much of the fall, five to 11-year-olds were getting COVID at the highest rate among age groups in the province. The hope is the vaccine will help decrease COVID cases among those kids.

There has been reluctance among this group in B.C. compared to other ages. So far a little more than a third of five to 11-year-olds have registered to receive the vaccine.

Horgan cancer

It would be an understatement to say Horgan has had a lot on his plate in 2021.

And now he is facing one of his toughest and most personal challenges. In November, Horgan was diagnosed with throat cancer. Surgery was successful in removing a growth and radiation treatment is underway.

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Click to play video: 'B.C. premier John Horgan on cancer fight' B.C. premier John Horgan on cancer fight
B.C. premier John Horgan on cancer fight – Nov 21, 2021

Horgan is expecting to make a full recovery but appointed Mike Farnworth as Deputy Premier if he needs support chairing meetings or making public events.

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