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

Green Lake shows community spirit on the ice at a safe distance

‘We advised everybody to keep good spacing’

‘It’s job No. 1 right now’: B.C.’s Harmac Pacific providing pulp for critical medical supplies

Bryan Reid Sr. of Williams Lake said they received a call of thanks from Canada’s Chrystia Freeland

Conservation Officer warns to reduce attractants

‘Spring is coming and bears have already been spotted’

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

COVID-19 world update: 6.6 million U.S. jobless claims; alcohol sales banned in Bangkok

Comprehensive digest of coronavirus news items from around the world

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read