COVID-19: B.C. extends state of emergency until April 28

THE B.C. government has formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

“Through this challenging time, British Columbians are leading the way in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Premier John Horgan on Wednesday. “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 state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on April 28, allowing the government to continue to take the necessary steps to keep British Columbians safe.

“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.”

Actions taken in the previous two weeks to support British Columbians include:

* introducing a new legal requirement to provide a self-isolation plan to support the federal Quarantine Act, and making sure British Columbians returning home from international destinations have the support they need to self-isolate and keep their communities safe from COVID-19;

* partnering with the Digital Technology Supercluster and the Business Council of British Columbia 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 for provincial health authorities to support front-line health workers fighting COVID-19;

* opening applications for the Province’s new temporary rental supplement, supporting renters who are experiencing a loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic;

* announcing $5 million to expand existing mental-health programs and services and launch new services to ensure British Columbians have increased access to vital mental-health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic;

* implementing a series of temporary supports and supplements to ensure B.C.’s most vulnerable – including people on income or disability assistance and low-income seniors – do not encounter additional barriers during the COVID-19 crisis;

* establishing 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 to eligible families over the next three months;

* issuing new provincial health officer (PHO) guidelines for municipal bylaw officers and other compliance officers to make sure there is compliance with the PHO’s orders and, if necessary, they are enforced consistently throughout B.C. communities; and

* partnering with local governments, non-profits and the hotel industry to support British Columbians who need a place to self-isolate and to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including people experiencing homelessness, people without safe spaces to self-isolate and youth.

Actions taken to date build on supports already in place as part of government’s COVID-19 Action Plan, which includes $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and direct funding for 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 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.

Quick Facts:

* 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.