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

Police watchdog investigating after Abbotsford man seriously injured during arrest

Abbotsford police used ‘less lethal firearm’ and dog in arrest of man believed to have gun

Abbotsford woman releases book of poetry

Saniya Kaushal’s ‘you are not ugly’ addresses hurtful words and behaviours

UPDATED: Mission spray park closed after children suffer swollen eyes, burns

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

VIDEO: Abbotsford Agrifair shares more about Drive-Thru Safari concept

Agrifair officials lay out plans for annual event, which runs from July 31 to Aug. 2

RCMP ask for assistance to find missing Chilliwack man

Raymond Gene Jarvis has been missing since early July

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

RCMP searching for culprit behind needle-filled lemons left on Coquitlam-area trails

The two lemons found were thrown away leaving police with little evidence

NDP wants Lower Mainland MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

B.C. health officials pleased with likely extension of Canada-U.S. border closure

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the situation is ‘very serious in the United States’

‘Perfect storm’ led to bad year for mosquitos near Fraser River

High river levels and lots of rain meant many eggs hatched this year

South Surrey mom frustrated by city’s response after son, 10, has severe reaction to park grass 

City of Surrey parks manager says ‘potential steps’ to address concern under review

Thousands of dollars of stolen rice traced to Langley warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Most Read