As the provincial total of COVID-19 cases tops 1,013, the B.C. government has formally extended the provincial state of emergency to April 14.
“The next 14 days are critically important in our province’s unprecedented fight against COVID-19. What we do today will affect what our doctors, nurses and first responders face in the days and weeks ahead,” said Premier John Horgan.
“Today, we’re asking all British Columbians to re-commit to doing their part. There are early signs that our actions are making a difference, and we can’t stop now.”
Using the extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has issued a series of orders to ensure a co-ordinated response to COVID-19 across all levels of government.
Through these orders, the Province is coordinating the supply chain for essential goods and services, supporting the enforcement of the provincial health officer’s orders and prohibiting the secondary selling of essential supplies.
The Government is also:
- providing $5 billion in income supports, tax relief, and direct funding
- halting evictions, freezing rents and introducing a $500 temporary rental supplement
- amending the Employment Standards Act to protect jobs for those unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19
- launching a process to match essential service workers with child care in their communities and supporting child care providers with temporary emergency funding
- bolstering seniors’ supports at community service agencies with $50 million and expanding bc211, a province-wide information and referral service to match seniors whose support network has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak with volunteers
- supporting food banks with a $3-million emergency grant to Food Banks British Columbia
- providing the arts sector with a $3-million Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement to be administered by the BC Arts Council
The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials.
Farnworth made the original declaration on March 18 after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, declared a public health emergency.
The Province has created 1 888 COVID-19 to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about COVID-19.
(Files from Catherine Garrett, MyPrinceGeorgeNow)