THE Province of British Columbia on Tuesday formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on March 2 to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.
“The fight against COVID-19 has been a long and difficult one, and I am proud of what British Columbians have accomplished to flatten the curve and protect our health-care system,” said Premier John Horgan. “The beginning of our mass vaccination program is just weeks away, and health-care workers have already vaccinated virtually everyone in our long-term care system. We need to keep following public health orders, knowing they will keep us safe as we work to end the pandemic in B.C.”
The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials. The original declaration was made on March 18, 2020, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer (PHO), declared a public health emergency.
“The vast majority of British Columbians are getting the message that we need to work together and follow public health orders so we can all get through COVID-19 safely,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “For the few who aren’t getting the message, police departments across B.C. have been doing an excellent job enforcing restrictions and ticketing offenders.”
The Province continues to use, with the support of police and other enforcement officials, measures under the EPA to limit the spread of COVID-19, including issuing tickets for owners, operators and event organizers who host an event or gathering contravening the PHO’s orders.
On July 10, 2020, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force, enabling provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue as needed should the provincial state of emergency end.
Facts about B.C.’s state of emergency
* Between August 21, 2020, and February 12, 2021, 1,058 violation tickets were issued, including:
– 170 $2,300 tickets to owners or organizers contravening the provincial health officer’s (PHO) order on gatherings and events,
– 31 $2,300 violation tickets for contravention of the PHO Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order, and
– 857 $230 tickets issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement.
* The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General is continually working to align Emergency Program Act (EPA) enforcement orders with those of the restrictions enacted by the PHO.
* Additionally, since the pandemic began, police agencies in British Columbia have issued 94 violation tickets to individuals who were in contravention of the Federal Quarantine Act, totalling $102,695.
* The purpose of the Quarantine Act is to protect public health by taking comprehensive measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.
* Since the start of the pandemic, WorkSafeBC has conducted 21,813 COVID-19 related work site inspections.
* On December 16, 2020, the Province announced enhanced enforcement measures to keep British Columbians safe and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. This included strengthening COVID-19 fine collection measures and asking provincial enforcement officers to support police and increase enforcement by issuing violation tickets during their normal course of duties or when in public places.
* Declarations of provincial states of emergency may be issued by the minister responsible under the EPA.
* The provincial government can extend the period of a declaration made by the minister responsible for further periods of up to 14 days at a time.