Several well-educated social-media users have repeatedly condemned some members of the B.C. press gallery over the past couple of years for allegedly shielding the NDP government from criticism over its COVID-19 policies.
It happened again this weekend after City News reporter Liza Yuzda blocked a former UBC postdoctoral fellow who was seeking coverage of her group human rights complaint.
Lena Patsa filed her complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of a “class of individuals who have been identified as higher-risk for severe COVID-19 based on a variety of factors”.
These factors include age, comorbidities, underlying conditions, current/prior medical history, and eligibility for vaccination.
Patsa’s complaint alleges that discrimination has occurred on the basis of physical disability in services and employment, which are prohibited under sections 8 and 13 of the Human Rights Code.
The Office of the Provincial Health Office, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the Provincial Health Services Authority, Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, B.C. Children’s Hospital, Providence Healthcare, and the Ministry of Health are named as respondents.
Patsa states that she filed the complaint in response to public messaging, guidance, and policies that contradict federal guidance and the established scientific consensus that SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted via the air.
She maintains that this constitutes “disinformation that directly and/or indirectly enables and/or is used to justify/enact policies and decisions that are discriminatory towards Members of the Class defined herein”.
For each respondent, she lists specific instances of alleged disinformation. (See Twitter thread at the bottom of this article.)
For the Provincial Health Office, for example, she cites a Dr. Bonnie Henry comment at a briefing about the inability of the virus to be suspended in the air and travel long distances.
Patsa also mentions one of Henry’s comments that “there’s no evidence that having a child wear a mask all day long will make a difference in terms of transmission.”
In addition, Patsa cites Henry’s comment at a 2021 lecture that “children are not amplifiers in schools”.
As a result, Patsa alleges, the respondents are directly endangering the lives and health of high-risk individuals who are members of the group.
Moreover, she claims that this makes managing daily life and the risk of infection extremely difficult, if not impossible, for those without means.
This is why she alleges that the respondents’ actions “indirectly enable discrimination” by serving as a basis for denying accommodations under the B.C. Human Rights Code. As one example, she cites a ban on the use of N95 respirators in long-term care facilities.
None of Patsa’s allegations have been proven before the tribunal.
Postdoc versus reporter
Over Twitter, Patsa expressed befuddlement over the media’s failure to cover her complaint, which was filed in late March.
This came after Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender wrote a March 16 letter to Henry maintaining that the decision to lift a provincewide mask mandate discriminated against the immunocompromised.
Later in the same thread, Patsa accused the 4th Estate of happily reiterating the “science-denying gaslighting spewed by the PHO+gang”.
On Twitter, Yuzda responded that she had presumed Patsa’s original tweet was by “another troll threatening her with the Nuremberg bs over COVID-19 vaccines”.
“The reason I mute or block quickly is the nastiness is crushing,” Yuzda declared. “Two years of covering covid has brought on an onslaught. And just when I thought it was easing, you’ve done a superb job with this onslaught.”
Below, you can read Patsa’s initial Twitter thread about the complaint.