RCMP sent to enforce Quarantine Act on 80-year-old cancer patient

An 80-year-old cancer patient in North Vancouver was visited by the RCMP to enforce quarantine. The officers were not wearing face masks despite her illness.
Collin Jones The Post Millennial

An 80-year-old woman with stage-4 cancer who lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia, was visited in her condo building by members of the RCMP last week to enforce quarantine, despite having answered phone multiple calls to ensure that she was where she was supposed to be. Of additional concern was that the officers were not wearing face masks, despite her compromised immune system.

Jeannette Geoffrion's daughter, Rachel Geoffrion, reached out to The Post Millennial on behalf of her mother, explaining the complex situation in which they have found themselves.

Geoffrion's parents live in North Vancouver, where most of the infections are among the elderly at nursing homes. Many of these homes are near where Geoffrion's parents live, and she has already been substantially concerned due to her mother's vulnerability as a result of the cancer.  

Geoffrion's mother suffers from stage-4 cancer, and has had to commute from North Vancouver, BC, to Bellingham, Washington, in order to receive cancer treatment that would otherwise be too expensive in the province. Her mother says she is too old (around 80 years of age) to "qualify for the enhancing pills even if I could afford them."

Normally, when Geoffrion's parents cross the border back into BC from the US, they are asked to quarantine for two weeks, per the Quarantine Act, and her parents always comply. Their primary concern is for Geoffrion's mother's health and safety. The couple goes so far as to have groceries delivered, and to wipe down anything before it enters the house.

Despite being called by law enforcement to ensure that they were where they said they were, the RCMP paid them a visit. The officers showed up on their doorstep without protective masks, and standing "within spitting distance of them."

The following is the timeline of events, drawn out by Geoffrion's mother to her daughter through an email, including the multiple confirmed phone calls that should have kept the RCMP from visiting the home of someone with a compromised immune system.

On Monday, May 11: "We missed two calls from the Canadian Government (Toronto) as they called very early, being 3 hours ahead of us."

On Tuesday, May 12: "The Government called again and Papa answered their questions about whether we came right home, etc."

On Wednesday, May 13: "The Government called me and I answered different question."

On Thursday, May 14: "Late morning, our front door condo phone rang and they said it was the RCMP coming to check on us. I signaled Papa to come to talk to them. He suggested they call on our cellphone in order to hear better but they said they wanted to come in. Papa said we couldn't have people in the condo but they said they would only come to the door. He let them up.

"The two officers stood back (no masks) and asked if we realized we were in isolation until May 21. Papa told them that I have cancer and am going for a CT scan in Bellingham tomorrow and for a bone scan on Tuesday.

"They were very apologetic and said of course we have a reason and left."

Geoffrion noted that the RCMP had asked her parents when they were going to complete a self-isolation plan online, but said that she was not going to "be looking up a self-isolation plan to fill out. I am really tired of this harassing people nearing 80 years of age."

She added: "Is it really necessary to send RCMP officers when they've already confirmed they were home, to send officers within spitting distance of them? My mom said they were nice, but I don't think this is very wise."

Geoffrion continued by saying that the RCMP had put her mother "in danger, she's fighting for her life, even her own family is staying away."

This raises the question of the efficacy of law enforcement overstepping its bounds in the name of safety. There was no reason, according to the self-isolation protocols, for the RCMP to show up to someone's home without wearing appropriate protective gear, thus putting the resident at risk.

Geoffrion challenged the purpose and motivation for such actions by the RCMP, by asking, "Is that even necessary? We're letting prisoners out of jail." And this speaks to the government's inability to establish and maintain consistent protocols in facing the pandemic.

Of the Trudeau response to the coronavirus pandemic, Geoffrion said that "they let the flights in from China and Iran until we're nice and infected, and then put on the restrictions and stopped the economy. It's communism."

Geoffrion contacted the North Vancouver RCMP about the incident, and received a call back from an inspector, who told her that "he can appreciate" her "concern, and the position that they're in." He noted that they are not provided personal history on those they are required to visit, and that all they knew was that her parents were frequent travellers for medical necessity.

He said that he "checked with the members, and that they ensured that were compliant with the national directives that's have been posted on our website with regard to PPE and social distancing requirements. They did go into the building.

"My members maintained their adequate distance, six feet, for sure, they didn't approach your parents whatsoever, they spoke to them. They had just a visual confirmation as is required by the Public Health Agency of Canada that we to perform not only a phone check and a physical check as well. And then what we do is we deem whether or not further physical checks are deemed necessary, or not necessary in this case.

"They would still be contacted by the provincial health authority, because they're separate from the federal, and we take our direction from the federal Public Health Agency of Canada. If the province of BC invokes a separate check, we have no control over it."

The Post Millennial reached out to the RCMP for comment, and were told that the regulations mandate the phone call as well as the home visit to ensure that people are where they say they are.

"In every interaction with the public our officers assess whether they require PPE," wrote Cpl. Chris Manseau, Division Media Relations Officer for the BC RCMP Communication Services. "If they were able to properly social distance the masks likely would not have been required."

According to Geoffrion, her parents have received two federal government phone calls, a call from the provincial government, a visit by two RCMP officers at their home, and an additional call from Vancouver police.

Collin Jones
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