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'Trump-style politics': NDP MLA on John Rustad's plan to compensate BC's unvaccinated healthcare workers

Earlier this month the leader of the Conservative Party of BC told KelownaNow that he would compensate healthcare workers who were fired from their jobs because they did not get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A week later, Ravi Parmar, BC NDP MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca, issued a public statement that called John Rustad’s plan “extremely concerning.”

“At a time when we need to be lowering costs for people and investing in healthcare, John Rustad is promising to spend tax dollars rewarding people who refused to do the simple thing necessary to keep people safe through the worst of the pandemic,” Parmar said in a media release.

“John Rustad’s obsession with conspiracy theories and fringe ideas is dangerous and it shows he’s not focused on the things people actually care about.”

On April 25, Parmar sat down with KelownaNow to discuss the NDP’s response to Rustad’s plan and the party’s thoughts on healthcare workers who are not being hired back and how the NDP is handling a healthcare system that has been in crisis for years.

When speaking to what caused so many healthcare workers to be terminated during the pandemic, Parmar, who was elected as an MLA in 2023, said that the NDP party relied on the “incredible” leadership of Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“We led not only the country, but North America in our approach to addressing the pandemic and addressing the challenges with COVID 19,” Parmar told KelownaNow.

“And what was really important was letting science prevail, getting politics out of the way and letting scientists like Dr. Henry make the decisions she needs to make.”

Parmar said that Rustad’s proposal to use public tax dollars, funds Parmar says should go towards housing, healthcare, infrastructure and addressing the cost of living issues, and giving it to “anti-vaxxers” had his head spinning.

He further said that Rustad’s views were “extreme” and were similar to “Trump-style politics.”

When KelownaNow asked why BC was one of the only provinces, or areas in North America, that was not hiring back those healthcare workers, something that was backed up by BC United leader Kevin Falcon, Parmar said it was “really important to ground this in science.”

<who> Photo Credit: 123rf/NowMedia </who> John Rustad (L), file picture (C) and Ravi Parmar (R).

He said decisions around this topic should not be made by John Rustad, Kevin Falcon or MLAs like himself.

“It is so important for politicians to get out of the way and for us to listen to people like Dr. Bonnie Henry and health scientists,” he said.

“They are the ones that make these decisions. They are the ones that are guiding our approach to dealing with the pandemic back in 2020 and today, and it's really important that we remember that here in British Columbia, we have specific challenges and issues.”

When KelownaNow again pressed about the main guiding reason why the government wouldn’t rehire those terminated healthcare workers, Parmar said he wasn’t in the position to speak on behalf of someone like Dr. Henry.

“What I will share and what Dr. Henry certainly (has) spoken about over the course of the last number of weeks and months and since the pandemic is the importance of getting the vaccine and how the vaccine protects people, especially those that are vulnerable,” he said.

“When you look at our hospitals, we have people who are ill. We have people who are immunocompromised and people who are super vulnerable and it is so important, as Dr. Henry has said, that those people have the protection.”

At the end of the interview, which KelownaNow will be publishing at least three other stories from, Parmar thanked us for the time and opportunity to “correct the record of the stupidity that comes out of John Rustad’s mouth.”

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