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

Open houses discouraged as Chilliwack realtors look for a way forward

March saw strong sales but April likely to see lower numbers

Trail and park closure rundown: Agassiz-Harrison

Several closures by province in area due to coronavirus

Chilliwack hospital offers thank-you message to community

Chilliwack health-care workers say they have heard everyone’s support throughout COVID-19 pandemic

Outstanding in their field

Agassiz Community Garden activity ramping up

Kent Elementary launches food voucher program

Breakfast, lunch now grocery vouchers amid pandemic

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19 world update: Joy in Wuhan as lockdown lifted; Pope denounces profiteers

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news items from around the world

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

Most Read