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

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

‘Erratic’ driver arrested on Highway 16 near Vanderhoof

A 23-year-old man from Calgary, Alberta, was arrested on July 6 and faces multiple charges.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Large rogue floating ‘island’ corralled by Lac la Hache residents

At least 60 feet wide, this large mass of plants is free-floating on the lake

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Most Read