Langley Advance Times is offering this weekly feature called “At Your Service.”
It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.
Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.
Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley School Board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.
The answers provided will be published in their entirety online Sundays.
Langley MLAs were asked:
In light of the coroner’s report, what should the B.C. government do to prepare for the next extreme heat wave event, specifically to protect seniors and other vulnerable people?
Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman
A. This summer’s heat dome tragically claimed the lives of 595 British Columbians and, as we look back on this tragedy, people expect answers as to why the NDP government failed to act on the warnings that arose well in advance of this extreme weather event.
Emails obtained by the BC Liberal Caucus under Freedom of Information (FOI) requests reveal alarm bells were ringing at E-Comm 9-1-1, in the months leading up to the heat dome. They show that B.C.’s Emergency Health Services were drastically under-resourced and ill-equipped to handle the flood of emergency phone calls that peaked between June 25 to July 1.
A month before the heat dome, E-Comm data analysis concluded that BC Ambulance Service delays were “compromising public safety overall.” By June 28, they were struggling to work with maxed-out BC Emergency Health Services and at certain points had over 200 callers waiting in queue to be assigned an ambulance.
Nobody should be put on hold when they call 9-1-1, so rather than make assertions that “fatalities are a part of life,” or that British Columbians need to “take some personal responsibility,” Premier John Horgan and his government should have heeded the warnings and acted on them.
The BC Liberals have repeatedly called for an independent review of the province’s response to the heat wave to ensure that a provincial response plan and better supports are in place for seniors and other at-risk populations in future extreme weather events.
Abbotsford West MLA Michael de Jong
A. In June and early July of this year, the extreme heat wave tragically led to the deaths of 595 British Columbians. Nearly 600 families lost their loved ones and are now looking to government to provide answers about how our province was so unprepared to cope with the heat.
In the months, and even years, leading up to the heat dome, this government was warned about possible risks.
First, by a report the NDP themselves commissioned, which warned of future heat waves and predicted that hundreds of British Columbians could lose their lives. And second, by E-Comm 9-1-1, who told government a month before the heat wave that emergency services were overwhelmed.
And yet, on the most intense day of the heat wave, members of the NDP said they were giddy about the ability to lift COVID restrictions — all while doing little to actually address the impacts of the heat wave, which was already becoming deadly.
The nearly 600 British Columbians who lost their lives, and their families, deserve accountability from this NDP government — and this should include a comprehensive independent review of the government’s response.
We need to ensure that all aspects of what happened are considered, so government can learn from its mistakes and respond immediately and effectively in the future.
Langley-East MLA Megan Dykeman
A. Despite the extraordinary level of response from the health system, local government, and all British Columbians, the heat wave exacted a terrible cost.
My heart goes out to everyone who experienced loss during this tragic climate event.
Our government worked with local communities and First Nations to open cooling centres, secure transportation to and from the centres, and increase water distribution, in addition to hiring additional paramedics and dispatchers.
This extreme weather event is also a reminder that we must address our changing climate. It’s one of the reasons why our government recently announced an ambitious climate plan, the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030.
Langley MLA Andrew Mercier
A. The tragic heat dome we experienced in British Columbia this past summer was a rare event, but we know that due to climate change it could happen more frequently.
Our government took immediate action, announcing funding to provide 85 new full-time paramedics across the province, 30 full-time dispatchers, 22 new ambulances, and the conversion of 22 rural ambulance stations to 24/7 ALPHA stations.
A heartfelt thank you to all those who worked above and beyond on the frontlines throughout the province during a weekend unlike any we’ve experienced before.
Next week we would a question to the Langley MPs. They’ve been asked:
What is one thing the government of Canada should do to advance Indigenous reconciliation in the next year?
Watch for the politicians’ answers online Sundays.