B.C. Premier John Horgan takes questions in a nearly empty B.C. legislature press theatre, April 9, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. doing better on COVID-19, Premier John Horgan says

Extends state of emergency, working on transit cash crisis

The B.C. government is preparing to release its second batch of modelling on the COVID-19 pandemic on April 17, and it is encouraging to see results from restrictions on people and businesses to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Premier John Horgan took questions from reporters April 15 after a cabinet meeting where B.C.’s state of emergency was extended for an additional two weeks. The second batch of provincial disease modelling will show progress that has been reflected in daily positive test totals, and B.C. residents deserve “a pat on the back virtually for the work we have done together to flatten the curve,” Horgan said.

But that improvement, to be detailed by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, isn’t about making projections for things like reopening schools to full classroom instruction, he said.

“I look at my colleagues across the country who set arbitrary dates for a return, before the data was in, before the science was confirming that, and we’re not going to follow that lead,” Horgan said. “We’re going to look at the numbers that emerge over the weeks ahead before we make those determinations.”

RELATED: B.C. allows private liquor stores to open 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

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When B.C. is able to ease its pandemic restrictions, one of the top priorities is to get started on a backlog of thousands of scheduled surgeries that have been postponed to clear acute-care bed space in B.C. hospitals.

Horgan said the reduction in driving and gasoline prices that have fallen below $1 a litre in many areas are helping people do their essential travel, and the province will have a “modest” announcement this week on ICBC’s response to the COVID-19 slowdown that has reduced accidents, ambulance calls and hospital emergency visits.

Asked about TransLink’s plea this week that they need $75 million a month to keep service going with no fares and few passengers, Horgan said he’s in nearly daily discussions with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on the needs of transit and municipalities.

Finance Minister Carole James and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson are expected to introduce new relief for businesses and local governments on April 16.


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tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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