Saturday January 15, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
EDITORIAL by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
On Thursday this week, the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) posted a “huge thank you to the folks at Vitacore Industries, a BC company that manufactures PPE for frontline workers”.
The Twitter post undoubtedly conveyed welcome news to the approximately 45,000 BCTF members who teach at schools across BC.
BCTF President Teri Mooring outlined that the company has donated 100,000 N95 masks to the BCTF. “We will distribute the N95s to members who need them through our locals. Thank you!”
“They are the best fitting mask. I feel very confident wearing them,” wrote one contributor in response to the news. Although another observer suggested that two masks per teacher was a bit on the light side, and that perhaps arranging a discount with the supplier would have been better for the longer term.
“We will work with locals to distribute them in ways that work for each membership group. Some districts have already stepped up, not all members want an N95. We are very grateful for this generous donation and caring for teachers,” was the BCTF reply on Twitter.
One person commented on Twitter today: “Private company pays to keep teachers safe while #bctf refuses to push the government to do the right thing……makes perfect sense.”
However, BCTF has been ‘pushing the government’ for provision of N95 masks to teachers for months, as part of what has been seen as necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) for a front line job.
Asking for masks to be supplied to teacher has not been an unreasonable request given the current Omicron-driven wave of the pandemic (not to diminish how smart it would have been for the provision of masks to teachers at any point in the past two years of the ongoing pandemic). So, evidently there is politics involved.
Perhaps it came down to a budget issue, combined with drawing the line between government and union. Helping out a union and then bargaining with them down the road might have put the government in conflict.
The BC government is probably grateful for the corporate donation to the BCTF, taking this prickly problem somewhat off their hands for now.
The thank-you’s continue:
This weekend BCTF posted again: “We have received so many messages of gratitude from #bced teachers. Thank you Mikhail and everyone at @vitacoreinc!”
Teachers are obviously on the front line of the COVID pandemic, exposed every day on the job to children who are in many cases still not vaccinated.
Apparently teens age 12 to 17 have taken up a high rate of vaccination in BC (according to Health Minister Adrian Dix yesterday), but vaccination for kids ages 5 to 11 years started November 29, 2021 and the uptake has not yet reached BC Health’s desired percentage of that population group.
Despite that Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry has insisted from the start that classrooms are controlled environments (presuming always the same people in the room), she has always said that classrooms/schools would reflect what’s going on with the pandemic with the broader community.
Indeed, every afternoon students go home to an uncontrolled COVID potential and return the next day to their group at school.
Most school boards have not gone down the road of mandating COVID vaccines for their staff (which includes teachers). The large Delta school district (on the BC Lower Mainland) has done a vaccine mandate for teachers — bucking a trend of no-mandate that was set by even larger school districts in Surrey and Vancouver.
The SD62 Sooke school board here on the west shore has mandated that all newly hired SD62 employees will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (as announced back on December 21, 2021).
About Vitacore Industries:
Vitacore Industries manufacturers medical and N95 face masks here in Canada. They are swamped with orders, advising visitors to their website to be patient with deliveries through Canada Post.
The children’s earloop version of the mask presently says on the Vitacore website that it will be shipping by February 4.
They say on their website: “Proud Canadian ingenuity, locally made and sourced masks and respirators to help North Americans stay safe so we can all return to the normalcy of everyday life.”
BC teachers want N95 masks & booster priority (January 4, 2022)
SD62 interrupts winter break with ‘new hires’ vaccine mandate message (December 21, 2022)
Mandatory COVID vaccination for teachers left up to school districts (October 8, 2021)
BCTF Fall 2021: wants better protections & return-to-school caution (September 6, 2021)