THE B.C. government has formally extended the provincial state of emergency to support the provincewide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, through the end of the day on 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 on Tuesday. “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 taking an active role in co-ordinating 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 goods and supplies.
Government is also taking steps to ensure people and businesses are supported through this challenging time by:
* providing $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people, businesses and services;
* 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 provincewide information and referral service to match seniors whose support network has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak with volunteers;
* supporting families who rely on food banks with a $3-million emergency grant to Food Banks British Columbia; and
* providing people and organizations in the arts sector with a $3-million Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement to be administered by the BC Arts Council.
“Our government is continuing to take all actions necessary to keep our communities safe, goods moving, and essential service workers supported,” Farnworth said. “This is an unprecedented time in our province. We’re working hard to alleviate the pressures that we’re all facing, and we will get through this together.”
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. 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., 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.