Can you help us Dr. Henry, please?

Dear Dr. Henry,

I’m hoping that this note will provide you with some insights into the lives of the people who live in that northwest corner of Surrey which the leaked documents reveal has the lowest vaccination rates and the above 20% positivity rate for the Covid-19 virus.

You must know that that same corner of Surrey is consistently highlighted in reports on poverty as having some of the highest childhood poverty rates in B.C.

If you live in this corner of Surrey, you’re likely to be an immigrant who speaks many languages except English. You are likely to work at least two jobs, neither of which provide you with paid sick leave. When you’ve had Covid-like symptoms, you weigh the definite outcome of hunger and eviction against the possibility of having Covid. If you don’t go in to work, you don’t get paid, and if you don’t get paid, your family doesn’t eat because the little money you do have must go to rent.

Your family is unlikely to own a car, so even if you wanted to get tested, you’d have to find a way to use the bus that only runs once every hour in your neighbourhood. There is an additional problem in that Translink warns you shouldn’t be on a bus if you’re sick.

No description available.

You can’t afford a taxi.

So, when you’re sick, you just stay home and hope to feel better in a day or so.

You were a business owner in your country of origin. Or a professional with a good middle-class lifestyle. But here, you’re an ‘essential worker’ whose work keeps the economy going but is not important enough to get you paid on the days you’re off sick.

When you stay home sick, you cannot isolate yourself from other family members because there are nine of you sharing a two-bedroom basement suite. You do your best, but it’s inevitable that other family members get sick as well.

Your children attend schools in Surrey. You keep getting notifications about exposures in those schools. They have a note at the top telling you in your first language to get the notice translated, but you don’t have time. Your translators, your children, have often gone to bed by the time you get home from work, and you’re gone to work before they wake up to go to school.

So, Dr. Henry, how do you propose to provide this community with the resources they need?

If Public Health could keep in mind the daily reality of people living in this corner of Surrey, wouldn’t there be a completely different approach, aligned with community characteristics, not just statistics?

People who live in the northwest corner of Surrey are more than the numbers in those leaked documents. They are B.C. citizens who are doing their best to survive in a pandemic despite having far fewer resources than most of us do.

You have the power to help them.

Please do.


A Surrey Teacher

8 thoughts on “Can you help us Dr. Henry, please?”

  1. I might add to that, why are teachers so frequently ignored. They have needs and ideas that are consistently ignored. It seems to many of them that those needs and ideas should be welcomed. They do after all take seriously the needs of the youngsters that will one day be involved in the running of this province.
    I should add that I am not a teacher but I recognize the part they play and the gap that exists between themselves and governments past and apparently present.


  2. Lots of great points!
    I was thinking on many of them already this week when my friend mentioned she had tried to register for her Covid vaccination and realized that the public clinic locations (not including the temporary AZ pharmacy locations, with limited supply and often only available to those with the technology savvy and time) are a 45 minutes bus ride away.
    A bus ride, that as a single mother, she will have to take with three young children, putting them all at risk for catching Covid.

    Why do some of our hot spots not have a vaccination location? Yet I noticed that South Surrey (not a hot spot but a wealthier demographic) has two locations.

    Fortunately my friend was finally able to get into the North Delta Rec location but I’m saddened by the barriers that stand in the way of so many Surrey residents.


  3. I came here from thetyee esp after seeing dr henry trend on twitter. I do sympathize and barely understand the stresses that are involved with teaching. A lot of what you are asking for, while under the purview of public health, is actually implemented via government. Poverty is an issue for public health. However, it is government that makes the legislation and resources available to be used to combat poverty. I understand that it is easy to jab the office of PHO saying “please help us”. Even more so in the time of the covid-19 pandemic. The powers of that office is inherently not that powerful. You should really make that impassionate speech to your MLA, MP. They, via your vote, are the ones who are suppose to help combat these very issues that you bring up. Not the PHO.


    1. Thank you! I have part of a group of teachers who have had several meetings with MLAs. We are always lobbying them for more action. A few weeks ago we had a Car Caravan to highlight the issues. We will try again this week to get their attention. During a pandemic, the PHO has extraordinary powers. The ask is that those powers be used.


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