THE provincial state of emergency is being extended for the third time, to support the extraordinary measures taken by the Province under the Emergency Program Act to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“British Columbians have shown great leadership in our efforts to flatten the curve, but we can’t take our foot off the gas now,” said Premier John Horgan on Wednesday. “As we look toward the future and our ‘new normal,’ we must remember what got us to this point and continue to stay the course now to keep our communities and our loved ones safe.”
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has officially extended the state of emergency through the end of the day on May 12.
“I want to relay our government’s gratitude to the large majority of people who are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in B.C.,” Farnworth said. “By extending the state of emergency, we will continue to take action to keep our communities safe through this challenging time, and make sure we stay on the right path in the weeks and months ahead.”
During the last two weeks of the provincial state of emergency, government has taken action to support British Columbians by:
* working with the cities of Vancouver and Victoria to transition people living in encampments in Oppenheimer Park, Topaz Park and on Pandora Avenue into safe, temporary accommodations with wraparound supports to protect their health and safety in the overlapping COVID-19 and overdose crises;
* developing a new collaborative framework that will help ensure people living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities in B.C. have access to critical health care they can count on to meet their unique needs during the COVID-19 pandemic;
* partnering with the federal government on the federal-provincial Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program, which will reduce monthly rent for thousands of small businesses in British Columbia;
* giving police and other enforcement officers the ability to issue $2,000 violation tickets for price gouging and the reselling of medical supplies and other essential goods during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;
* distributing up to $35.6 million over three months through Community Living BC to ensure people with developmental disabilities stay supported and safe during the pandemic; and
* providing enhanced relief for businesses by reducing most commercial property tax bills by an average of 25%, along with new measures to support local governments facing temporary revenue shortfalls as a result of COVID-19.
These actions are part of government’s COVID-19 Action Plan, which includes $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and direct funding to support people, businesses and services.
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 previous day.
The Province has created 1 888 COVID-19 (1 888 268-4319) 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.
* Declarations of provincial states of emergency may be issued by the minister responsible under the Emergency Program Act.
* The provincial government can extend the period of a declaration made by the minister responsible for further periods of time for up to 14 days at a time.
* During the 2017 wildfire season, the province was in a provincial state of emergency for 10 weeks, from July 7 to September 15.