B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, seen at the legislature May 18, 2018, has emergency authority in COVID-19 pandemic. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. declares state of emergency, recalling legislature for COVID-19

Legislature coming back next week with few MLAs

The B.C. government has activated a state of emergency, as it did with wildfires in 2017 and 2018, to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: 45 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., bringing total to 231

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth declared the state of emergency March 18, calling it “an all-hands-on-deck approach” with all levels of government to maintain critical supply lines and infrastructure.

Farnworth said he has been getting good cooperation from everyone, and doesn’t expect to be using the authority that includes controlling food and fuel distribution.

“What we’re seeing is what we see every time there’s an emergency, people stepping up and coming forward,” Farnworth said. “I’m not anticipating having to use those powers, but they are there.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry activated her public health emergency authority Tuesday, ordering bars to close and restricting restaurants to take-out or widely spaced seating. Farnworth said people’s compliance with self-isolation is covered by the health emergency law, as are public gatherings of more than 50 people.

RELATED: Trudeau promises $82B aid, tax payments suspended

RELATED: B.C. welcomes broader EI payments for wage loss

Farnworth said the B.C. legislature will resume sitting next week as scheduled, with minimum staff and a quorum of 12 MLAs, eight of them from the NDP government. The B.C. Liberal opposition will have two members and the B.C. Green Party will have both its members taking part, sitting far apart to follow Henry’s direction on “social distancing” to prevent transmission of viruses.

The legislature’s first tasks will be to pass an interim supply bill to permit government spending, and amendments to the Employment Standards Act to prevent layoffs due to the sweeping “social distancing” and public gathering rules now in effect.

The provincial state of emergency declaration is for two weeks, renewable by cabinet order as was done in the 2017 and 2018 forest fire seasons, when communities were evacuated to community centres and other shelters.


@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

Schools get creative to provide food to students

Initiatives underway include providing gift cards

UPDATE: First presumptive case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert

Doctor says it was a visitor, Northern Health won’t confirm

Schools ramp up contact efforts with students

Efforts of school district employees called “extraordinary”

North District RCMP see massive spike in domestic calls

Connection to COVID-19 pandemic likely for reduced call volume, increased severity

Northwest mines lengthen crew rotations in response to COVID-19

Northern Health confident precautions sufficient enough to keep work camps open

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

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Sanders drops 2020 bid, leaving Biden as likely nominee

Sanders plans to talk to his supporters later Wednesday

B.C. faith leaders, Horgan discuss need for virtual religious ceremonies

Leaders were open to providing other ways to celebrate during the pandemic

Emergency COVID-19 funding now available for children with special needs

Funding to be used to help support families through uncertain times of pandemic

Revenue dip needed to qualify for wage subsidy drops to 15% in March: Trudeau

Wage subsidy would over 75% of each employee’s salary for qualifying businesses

B.C. closes all provincial parks for COVID-19 protection

Easter weekend approaches, camping already closed

Air Canada says it will apply for wage subsidy to rehire workers after cutting 16,500 jobs

Air Canada said March revenues fell by more than 30 per cent year over year

Most Read