Premier John Horgan and a handful of MLAs convene the B.C. legislature for emergency session to deal with coronavirus-related business, March 23, 2020. (Hansard TV)

B.C. legislature meets briefly with minimum MLAs to deal with COVID-19

Votes to continue money supply, amend law to prevent layoffs

Premier John Horgan called the B.C. legislature into a brief session to change employment law to protect workers affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping around the world.

Only 10 MLAs gathered in the chamber March 23, a rare event that also had to pass a motion to continue the province’s spending authority with a bare quorum to make it official. Finance Minister Carole James joined the session hours after revealing a $5 billion aid package for people forced to stop working and businesses forced to cut back or close down.

Two members of the B.C. Liberal and B.C. Green opposition parties staged a brief question period before the votes, with Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong asking Health Minister Adrian Dix to forecast what the COVID-19 situation is likely to look like in the months to come.

Dix replied by describing the clearing of more than 3,600 acute care hospital beds, and the province stepping up virus testing as the public health emergency orders shut down all but essential business and public functions.

RELATED: B.C. announces $5 billion fund, including cash for workers

RELATED: B.C. starts daily screening of senior care home employees

“I don’t see any prospect before the end of April for those orders changing,” Dix told the legislature.

Responding to a question about hoarding and selling virus-related supplies, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth reported on his latest discussion with his federal counterpart Bill Blair. A series of federal orders to protect supply chains and key supplies will be coming soon, Farnworth said.

James said the financial aid package is still being developed with the $5 billion authorized by a unanimous vote. Asked by Richmond-Queensborough MLA Jas Johal whether it is enough for the situation, James said that remains unknown.

The ministry doesn’t yet know if $5 billion will be enough “for the next three months, the next six months, the next two months.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Summer wilderness photo contest opens

Mosaic Forest Management launched its annual photo contest on July 1.

Drivesmart column: What does a traffic cop do?

I think most people see a traffic cop as someone who writes speeding tickets

Lake Flashback: Logging history, leaks, the EN and more

Do you remember these stories from back in the day?

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Most Read