Tuesday was Global Handwashing Day, and a good day to focus on a health issue in Kamloops and in B.C. While in recent years, medical and public health authorities nationwide have actively promoted proper hand washing as a major disease prevention method, our City and province have not stepped up and provided soap in many public washrooms.
While traveling this summer, I was appalled to find that there was no soap in B.C. Provincial Park and highway rest area washrooms. I had already visited a number of national and provincial parks in Alberta and national parks in the U.S. where soap was always provided. In addition, many provided hand sanitizer and all had signs promoting proper hand washing.
The contrast to B.C. facilities was shocking. How can our government fail to provide soap?
Surely the cost is small to protect the health of our citizens and visitors to B.C. What impression does this leave on tourists? It makes B.C. facilities feel like Third World washrooms.
Some Kamloops park washrooms do not provide soap. In a city promoting itself as the tournament capital, the lack of soap for visiting teams is a disgrace.
In addition, homeless people have to rely on public facilities. Without soap, they are greatly at risk of contracting and spreading communicable diseases. How awful for them not to have the opportunity to wash with soap.
While 20 or 30 years ago, many gas station washrooms were to be avoided as grubby places lacking the necessities, they have come a long way and are now most often clean and fully supplied. Now, our public facilities are often the last resort for travelers. How embarrassing for otherwise proud British Columbians! It is humiliating to see our city and province lagging so far behind in providing this simple health care measure.
Todd Stone, the Kamloops South-Thompson MLA and minister of Highways and Infrastructure, and Mary Polak, minister for Environment, must take responsibility for the lack of soap in our highway rest areas and provincial parks respectively, and must correct the situation without delay.
Similarly, Mayor Peter Milobar and his City council must correct the situation in Kamloops parks. It is a matter of public health.