British Columbia·Video

Anti-maskers need to reflect on the true meaning of 'injustice,' health officials say

B.C.'s health minister is imploring belligerent anti-maskers to have some compassion and some perspective when it comes to the true meaning of injustice.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says what's actually unjust is losing family members or living in isolation

A woman wearing a mask walks by a sign advising that masks are mandatory on public transit in Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C.'s health minister is imploring belligerent anti-maskers to have some compassion and perspective when it comes to the true meaning of injustice.

During Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing, Adrian Dix described wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, in compliance with B.C. law, is "a sign of respect for one another."

For those who claim their rights and freedoms have been unjustly curtailed by the mask mandate, Dix asked for consideration of staff and patients at Burnaby Hospital, who are dealing with a deadly outbreak and the aftermath of a fire at the same time.

"That's unjust. It's unjust that all of the people have to go through this, but we do, together," Dix said.

"So when people use terms of injustice, they should be properly applied."

He also spoke of Wednesday's record-high 13 deaths from the novel coronavirus, and how awful those losses are for  families and friends left behind.

Dix said for the most part, he sees British Columbians pulling together to do their part during this second wave of the pandemic. Most people are respecting physical distancing measures, washing their hands, staying home when they're sick and wearing masks, the health minister said.

Dr. Bonnie Henry denounces people who refuse to wear masks over 'lack of freedom'

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5 months ago
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B.C.'s provincial health officer says wearing masks is a sign of respect. 1:02

"Others need to reflect when they claim injustice here about wearing a mask … because there are people here who are genuinely suffering and working hard in extraordinary circumstances and we need to be with them," Dix said.

On Tuesday, the province announced $230 fines for anyone who does not comply with its mandatory mask order.

The mandate requires workers and members of the public to wear face coverings in all retail environments, restaurants and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.

The B.C. government says anyone who is not wearing a mask, who does not leave a space when asked, or who responds with belligerent or abusive behaviour is subject to the fine.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday that she "has no time" for people who are aggressive or rude about refusing to wear a mask, or those who spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

"I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of lack of freedom," Henry said.

"To me, it's about a sign of respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this with us."

However, Henry also stressed that some people are legitimately unable to wear a mask because of certain disabilities, and they should be treated with understanding and compassion. 

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