COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected all of our communities, but it has hit some communities much harder than others. In rural parts of British Columbia, our smaller communities often don’t have the resources and services that would allow them to remain as self-sufficient as our larger towns and cities during this long period of isolation. What is more concerning, some communities who may rely on neighboring towns and cities for vital medical services are finding it increasingly difficult to safely transport their seniors or immune-compromised individuals to receive the medical services they depend on.
Because of COVID-19, transportation companies have been forced to suspend certain travel routes to our remote communities— including Central Mountain Air’s flight from Fort St. John to Prince George and Fort Nelson to Prince George, which leaves the citizens of Fort Nelson with no charter flights in or out of the town. If a resident needs vital medical service or to attend the cancer centre, their only option is to drive a single-lane highway for nine hours in the dead of winter. Many Fort St John and area residents utilize the flights to seek cancer care in Prince George as well.
When the impacts to our transportation services could put lives at risk, it’s vital for government to quickly find solutions and fill these gaps. That is why my colleague, Transportation Critic Michael Lee, and I wrote a letter to Transportation Minister Rob Fleming asking for support for Central Mountain Air so that it can continue its vital service in northern B.C. By keeping our transportation routes open, we can ensure that every British Columbian has access to the vital services they need, regardless of where in the province they call home.
By Dan Davies, MLA for Peace River North