‘Did we get the timing right?’: B.C.’s top doctor reflects on 2021, looks ahead to next year

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry sat down with CTV News Vancouver Island to reflect on 2021 and the year ahead

British Columbia’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, sat down with CTV Vancouver Island’s Rob Buffam for a look back at the tumultuous year that was 2021.

The conversation ranged from expected hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant of concern in the new year, to B.C.’s criticised rollout of rapid antigen tests and booster shots.

Henry also gave her thoughts on the toxic drug crisis, as well as what the COVID-19 landscape may look like a year from now.


On the topic of Omicron, Henry acknowledged that in many ways — particularly with recent case counts and the psychological impact of yet another wave — the emergence of this variant has been the most challenging time of the pandemic.

She says it’s still unclear how badly the healthcare system will be impacted by the latest variant, but says that non-urgent scheduled surgeries do need to be cancelled as a precaution starting Jan. 4.

Henry says there may be a significant increase in hospitalizations due to the variant, but predicts that the true impact of Omicron won’t be know for several weeks.

When asked about the easing of restrictions and the number of active cases in B.C. compared to other jurisdictions of Canada before Omicron arrived, Henry said the province was doing its best to balance risks with re-opening.

“In places like Ontario they kept a lot more restrictions in at a lot more places,” she said. “Did we get the timing right, perfectly? Probably not. But it’s really hard to know.”

She also did not rule out bringing in additional measures — subject to how Omicron unfolds in the coming weeks.


Regarding the rollout of rapid tests — something B.C. has lagged significantly behind other provinces on, including Alberta and Ontario — Henry acknowledged that the province’s strategy of ordering the lateral swab tests used in the U.K. didn’t unfold as expected.

Many of the tests did not arrive in the fall, as they were supposed to, contributing to the shortage. Henry says when more tests arrive in January, one focus will be on using them in schools to assist with the goal of maintaining in-person learning.

Despite delays in getting booster shots in the arms of British Columbians, Henry insists most folks should expect a second dose around six months after they received their second dose.

“The focus that we’ve had from the very beginning is making sure that the booster doses get to the people who need them most first,” she said.

As for what Christmas 2022 is likely to look like, B.C.’s top doctor says while she clearly hopes life is much closer to normal, she’s learned through two years of the pandemic not to make sweeping assurances about the future.

Source: CTV News