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State of emergency extended to continue B.C.’s COVID-19 response

The province is extending its provincial state of emergency to April 28th.

This will allow Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support B.C.’s pandemic response.

“Through this challenging time, British Columbians are leading the way in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Premier John Horgan said. 

“We are starting to see the results of our sacrifice, dedication and hard work, and we must continue to be steadfast in our commitment to keep our communities safe – for ourselves, our loved ones and our workers on the front lines.”

“British Columbians should be proud of the way we have responded to this crisis. But the work is not over,” Farnworth said. “We must hold our ground and take all the steps needed to make sure our communities remain safe and our essential service workers are supported in our ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

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The province says that actions taken in the previous two weeks include:

  • introducing a new legal requirement to support the federal Quarantine Act, and “making sure British Columbians returning home from international destinations have the support they need to self-isolate”;
  • partnering with the Digital Technology Supercluster and the Business Council of British Columbia to create the COVID-19 Supply Hub, a made-in-B.C. online platform “to coordinate, find and speed up the delivery of medical supplies and personal protective equipment for provincial health authorities to support front-line health workers fighting COVID-19”;
  • opening applications for the province’s new temporary rental supplement, supporting renters who are experiencing a loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • announcing $5 million to expand existing mental-health programs and services and launch new services to ensure British Columbians have increased access to vital mental-health supports during the pandemic;
  • implementing a series of temporary supports and supplements “to ensure B.C.’s most vulnerable – including people on income or disability assistance and low-income seniors – do not encounter additional barriers during the COVID-19 crisis”;
  • establishing an Emergency Relief Support Fund for children and youth with special needs and their families that will provide direct payments of $225 per month to eligible families over the next three months;
  • issuing new provincial health officer (PHO) guidelines for municipal bylaw officers and other compliance officers to make sure there is compliance with the PHO’s orders and, if necessary, they are enforced consistently throughout B.C. communities; and
  • partnering with local governments, non-profits and the hotel industry to support those who need a place to self-isolate and to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including people experiencing homelessness, people without safe spaces to self-isolate and youth.

Actions to date build on supports already in place as part of the government’s COVID-19 Action Plan, which includes $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people, businesses and services.

The extension is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials. 

Farnworth made the original declaration on March 18th, after Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry,  declared a public health emergency the previous day.

The Province has created 1 888 COVID-19 to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about COVID-19. 

This includes the latest information on travel recommendations and physical distancing, as well as access to support and resources from the provincial and federal governments. 

The call line is available seven days a week, from 7:30am to 8:00pm, in 110 languages. People with questions related to their health and COVID-19 should call 8-1-1.

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