B.C. Premier John Horgan gives an update on provincial support programs for people facing consequences of COVID-19 pandemic, B.C. legislature, March 17, 2020. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C. Premier John Horgan has extended B.C.’s state of emergency for a second two weeks, warning that everyone’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus are needed more than ever in the days ahead.

“As I watch what is happening around the world right now, it is unsettling and downright scary,” Horgan said in a brief televised address to the province March 31.

He noted that rent and mortgage payments are due April 1 for many people and businesses, but offered no update on how to apply for up to $1,000 per month for lost wages due to pandemic restrictions, and the additional $500 per month towards rent that the province has also committed to provide.

Finance Minister Carole James has said the B.C. wage supplement won’t be available until May, and depends on people qualifying for the federal government’s newly expanded Employment Insurance program.

B.C.’s state of emergency law requires it to be renewed every two weeks, as was done in the 2017 and 2018 forest fire seasons. They give the province authority to direct supply chains and enforce medical emergency orders with fines and jail time.

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Horgan reminded B.C. residents that it has been nine weeks since the first COVID-19 was confirmed in B.C., and since then 24 people have died from it as cases add up each day. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported five additional deaths March 31, and the total number of positive tests has passed 1,000, with many having recovered.

Health Minister Adrian Dix warned that the COVID-19 situation, with bans on gatherings outside family groups and many businesses closed or restricted, is with B.C. for some time to come.

“Zero chance for the end of April, little to none in May, or in the immediate weeks after that,” Dix said March 31 about the possibility of provincial health orders lifting.


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