Horgan extends BC state of emergency due to COVID-19

Horgan extends BC state of emergency due to COVID-19
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BC Premier John Horgan has announced an extension of the current state of emergency in British Columbia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BC Premier John Horgan has announced an extension of the current state of emergency in British Columbia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a press conference from Victoria on Wednesday afternoon, Horgan said that the state of emergency will now be in effect until April 28, 2020, allowing the government to continue to take necessary steps to keep British Columbians safe.

“Through this challenging time, British Columbians are leading the way in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Premier John Horgan. “We are starting to see the results of our sacrifice, dedication and hard work, and we must continue to be steadfast in our commitment to keep our communities safe – for ourselves, our loved ones and our workers on the front lines.”

The formal extension of the state of emergency allows Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the provincial government’s pandemic response.

“British Columbians should be proud of the way we have responded to this crisis, but the work is not over,” Farnworth said. “We must hold our ground and take all the steps needed to make sure our communities remain safe and our essential service workers are supported in our ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

With the landscape of the pandemic not having significantly changed, the advice from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has stayed the same over the last couple of weeks. As a result, the government said the extension is a direct result from the recommendations of BC’s health and emergency management officials.

Over the last two week period, among other things, the BC government:

  • Is legally requiring anyone returning to the province to provide a self-isolation plan to support the federal Quarantine Act.
  • Partnered with the private tech sectore to create the COVID-19 Supply Hub, a made-in-B.C. online platform to co-ordinate, find and speed up the delivery of medical supplies and personal protective equipment to support front-line health workers
  • Opened applications for the Province’s temporary rental supplement
  • Announced $5 million would help fund the expansion of existing mental-health programs and services, while launching new services.
  • Implemented a series of temporary supports and supplements to assist B.C.’s most vulnerable – including people on income or disability assistance and low-income seniors
  • Established an Emergency Relief Support Fund for children and youth with special needs and their families that will provide a direct payment of $225 per month for the next three months

During his address Horgan also offered his appreciation towards those working on the front line while encouraging residents to continue to make noise every night at 7 pm.

“We had the local firefighter with his siren going last night and I hope that will be a regular occurrence. If you can hear us in Langford, you can hear us in Lantzville, you can hear us right across British Columbia,” Horgan said of the nightly cheers heard in his neighbourhood.

The provincial state of emergency currently allows the government to:

  • Fine people upward of $25,000 or jail anyone who doesn’t follow public health orders
  • Ban the reselling of essential supplies like food and cleaning material
  • Intervene where necessary to ensure the supply of food and medical supplies is secure

The initial declaration was made by Farnworth on March 18, 2020.

The Province has also created 1-888-COVID-19 to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about COVID-19. This includes the latest information on travel recommendations and physical distancing, as well as access to support and resources from the provincial and federal governments.

The call line is available seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Pacific time), in 110 languages. People with questions related to their health and COVID-19 should call 811.

The last time British Columbia declared a state of emergency was during the wildfire season in 2017.


Graham CoxGraham Cox

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