Mayor of B.C. town near Alberta border calls for end of mask mandate, vaccine card

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 restriction confusion in border communities'
COVID-19 restriction confusion in border communities
B.C. is maintaining an indoor mask mandate and vaccine passport while our neighbours to the east have lifted both. Communities bordering Alberta have the burden of dealing with different restrictions. Richard Zussman has the story. – Mar 7, 2022

The Rockies are not the only thing dividing Alberta and British Columbia.

The provinces now have starkly different COVID-19 rules, and a mayor along the border says it’s time for B.C. to catch up.

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks told Global News on Monday there has been a recent increase in visitors not following the mandate to wear masks in public indoor spaces and hesitating to show their proof of vaccination.

British Columbia still requires both, while Alberta has dropped both.

“We are starting to see people ignore those rules and enter buildings without masks, et cetera,” Wilks said.

“The majority of people have COVID fatigue and are wanting to get rid of the restrictions.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. committed to making changes to COVID-19 restrictions by spring break, if possible'
B.C. committed to making changes to COVID-19 restrictions by spring break, if possible

With so much interconnectivity between the provinces, Wilks said, there should be consistent rules across Canada.

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B.C. is the last province in the country to outline when both proof of vaccination and indoor mask requirements may be lifted.

Some provinces, like Ontario, have announced the policy switch, but have not yet implemented it.

“It has become confusing. We are doing our best to let people know vaccine passports are still in place plus masking,” Wilks said.

“For those that come in without masks, they don’t push the issue because it is not worth the confrontation.”

Click to play video: 'Focus BC: Easing of COVID restrictions, Nathan Cullen’s new position'
Focus BC: Easing of COVID restrictions, Nathan Cullen’s new position

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province will be making an announcement on Thursday, adding the pressure on the health-care system has eased since the Omicron-variant surge.

“You look over the pandemic — there have been fewer changes in B.C. than other jurisdictions, and that effect has been positive,” Dix said.

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“It is important to live in the present. We have the vaccine card in place. We have the mask mandate in place.”

British Columbia also still has significant visitation restrictions in effect at long-term care homes, as well as restrictions in public schools.

BC Liberal MLA for Peace River South Mike Bernier said his constituents are fed up with the inconsistent rules and would like to see more specific reasons for why B.C. differs from Alberta.

“This is not about the vaccine any more. A majority of the people emailing me are double vaccinated, possibly even triple vaccinated, saying, ‘I am done. I need to know what is going on. I want to get back to my life,” Bernier said.

“I have people saying, ‘Am I going to go down to Edmonton for spring break and spend all my money, or will I stay here and spend locally?'”

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