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

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Castlegar doctors’ offices remain open for phone, video and in-person appointments

Doctors concerned people may be neglecting health concerns for fear of catching the COVID-19

BRAND NAMES: Cominco, West Kootenay Power, Granby

Consolidated Mining and Smelting (CM&S) became Cominco, then Teck-Cominco, then Teck

Castlegar hospice director says COVID-19 measures make serving the dying heartbreaking

Social distancing brings big challenges to offering support

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Most Read