Horgan hopes to reconvene the legislature before Christmas, but Covid could get in the way
Having received Lieutenant-Governor Janet Austin’s official request to form government, Premier John Horgan is hoping to reconvene the legislature before the holidays — but much will depend on how B.C.’s pandemic situation develops in the weeks ahead.
“With the increasing cases in the past 10 days or so, that has challenged our ability to bring people together in Victoria for swearing in,” he said. “That has to happen, and then we have to swear in a cabinet.”
That means B.C. households eligible to receive the $1,000 recovery benefit promised by the NDP during the election campaign may not have it by Christmas.
“I can’t guarantee that because I don’t know what restrictions we will have in terms of getting the legislature back into place,” Premier John Horgan told reporters yesterday.
The announcement of the next NDP cabinet will be in the “coming days and weeks,” per Horgan. A throne speech is also on the docket.
B.C. could return to Phase 1 if new restrictions fail to curb climbing cases
“That’s the end result if we don’t start to see these numbers come down,” Horgan said when asked about the possibility of the province returning to the initial phase of its response to the pandemic.
Phase 1 included a ban on all non-essential travel, online-only schooling and the closure of many businesses.
“There are a whole bunch of people that are not abiding by the minimalist rules we had in place, and that is why we have seen the regional issues Dr. Bonnie Henry brought forward this week,” Horgan said.
Public health inspectors will be teaming up with WorkSafeBC employees to ensure businesses in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health areas are following adequate Covid safety plans as prescribed by the provincial health officer. But the premier is hoping not to have to crack down hard.
“We need to create ways to ensure we are reducing risky behaviour … and we do that through, I believe, hoping for compliance rather than rigorous enforcement,” Horgan said. “But enforcement is key and a vital part of the work we will be doing in the weeks ahead.”
The aim is to fine tune the province’s pandemic response without having to retreat to anything like the initial shutdown in the spring.
“Our objective, from the beginning, has been to reduce the lockdown and expand our ability to operate safely,’ Horgan said. “But it is going to require people to get with the program.”
B.C. has delivered ‘superior’ pandemic response
B.C.’s first regional restrictions are being implemented as the premiers of Alberta and Ontario push back against further restrictions to stem the second wave.
Asked about the contrast, Horgan said B.C. approached the pandemic “differently from other provinces from the beginning” and hailed the “extraordinary team” leading B.C.’s Covid response.
“I won’t compare myself to other provinces — I don’t believe that’s helpful,” Horgan said. “I do know that our outcomes have been superior. And British Columbians have responded, in my opinion, better than other Canadians by understanding that we’re all in this together.”
In the past seven days B.C.’s rate of new COVID-19 cases is the same as Ontario’s at 51 per 100,000 people. The national rate is 68 cases per 100,000 people in the past week.
The province is preparing to launch a pandemic safety ad blitz in multiple languages and on multiple platforms “to connect with those who don’t watch the news or read the daily papers.”
British Columbians need to be prepared to keep up their response to the pandemic over the long haul, per the premier.
“No one should be under any illusion based on what’s happening in British Columbia, in Canada, in North America and around the world, that we’re going to be out of this anytime soon,” he told reporters.