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.
“As we continue to slowly and carefully reopen our economy, British Columbians are starting to see aspects of normal life return. But it’s important to remember that we’re not out of the woods yet,” said Premier John Horgan. “There are a lot of people, businesses and communities that continue to need a hand right now, and the extension of this state of emergency helps us do that.”
The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on June 23, allowing government to continue to take the necessary steps to keep British Columbians safe.
“Under the provincial state of emergency, our government continues to address the variety of needs throughout British Columbia in response to COVID-19,” Farnworth said. “We’ve been working with communities throughout this crisis, and the provincial state of emergency helps ensure our efforts continue in a mindful and co-ordinated way.”
Actions taken in the previous two weeks to support British Columbians include:
* strengthening the federal commercial rent program by issuing a new order that protects B.C. businesses that are eligible for rent support from commercial evictions due to unpaid rent payments through to the end of June 2020;
* more than 157,000 students returning to school on the first day of an optional return to in-class instruction for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year;
* launching a new online resource to showcase current job vacancies in agriculture, while providing farmers, seafood businesses and food processors with a one-stop shop to support their hiring and planning needs;
* expanding the air quality alert subscription service beyond email notifications to allow people to receive real-time air quality advisories and smoky skies bulletins by text;
* investing $7.5 million through Creative BC for Amplify BC, a program to help B.C.’s music industry to create and operate during the pandemic;
* providing an additional $250,000 to support industry-led Buy BC activities focused on e-commerce, for a total of $550,000 under government’s Buy BC Partnership Program;
* providing temporary relief to hospitality licensees who have had to suspend their operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as licensees are allowed to sell their existing liquor stock to other licensees who are still operating and private liquor stores;
* beginning to assess courthouses and courtrooms throughout the province to ensure they meet the health and safety requirements established by the provincial health officer and WorkSafeBC; and
* providing an additional $250,000, for a total of $550,000 to support B.C. farmers and processors to move online.
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.
* 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 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.