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Premier: COVID strategy as cases rise, legislature Dec 7, Xmas bonus in the works

Wear a mask to stop COVID spread | Holiday season bonus coming around year-end

Wednesday November 18, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated November 22, 2020]

by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends

Premier John Horgan today asked British Columbians to “amend their behaviour” and keep distanced from people they don’t know, and wear a mask if needing to be in proximity to people outside their known bubble.

During his morning media availability, he said that “non-essential travel is prohibited in BC” for at least the ordered two-week period (November 10 through to 3 pm on November 23). He asks that people limit their social gatherings to same-household only.

An example of spread due to inter-regional travel is the higher number of cases recently on Vancouver Island (which until recently enjoyed a relatively low rate of spread and low number of cases).

Premier John Horgan, November 18 2020
Premier John Horgan during his media availability on Wednesday November 18, 2020.

The virus is out there. It’s everywhere. The idea of wearing a mask (and following other public health protocols) is about following the science and solid public health advice, Premier Horgan said today. It’s not about trying to control people’s individual liberties, it’s about keeping them safe. Horgan says the government does “not want to use restrictions in a heavy-handed way.”

Horgan said he will discuss with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (during the next Thursday meeting of all premiers with the prime minister) about a “pan Canadian approach to travel”. He says that “if people come to BC it should be only essential — for business and well-being”.

Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and her team are working on appropriate orders, the premier said today. Dr Henry’s next media availability about the COVID-19 pandemic is tomorrow, November 19 at 3 pm.

Vaccines as they come:

COVID-19, vaccine, vial
Premier Horgan is cautiously optimistic about vaccines being available in 2021.

Regarding the availability of vaccines, first off it is remarkable that science (with in many cases the support of government funding) has fast-tracked the development of vaccines for a new virus. Before COVID ever hit, the development of vaccines would take significantly longer than eight or 10 months — in fact, 10 years was the usual standard.

Premier Horgan says “the news around vaccines is very encouraging, but we’re not there yet” (as in letting our guard down in any way regarding COVID public health protocols or a lifestyle resembling ‘normal’).

New cabinet and new legislative session:

The BC Legislative Assembly will be back up and running as of Monday December 7, said Horgan today. That’s the date for the Throne Speech. Ahead of that, new MLAs will be sworn in on November 24 and the new cabinet announced on November 26.

The Premier noted that both major parties have new MLAs to bring up to speed; in the case of his BC NDP newly elected MLAs that’s 23 out of his 57 majority contingent (significantly 40 per cent of his caucus).

Mike Farnworth, Public Safety Minister & Attorney General, August 2020
Mike Farnworth will be the new House Speaker in the BC Legislative Assembly (Aug 21, 2020 file photo)

There are 87 seats in the legislature, with a new composition resulting from the October 24, 2020 provincial general election: 57 BC NDP, 28 BC Liberal, two BC Green. A final count announced on November 16 settled a razor-thin margin in one lower mainland riding, in favour of the BC Liberal candidate (otherwise the Green candidate, had he won, would have seen three BC Greens in the new legislative assembly).

Today Horgan let it slip that Mike Farnworth will be the new Speaker of the House. Farnworth in the 2017-2020 NDP minority government was the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

Christmas season bonus:

christmas, new year, bonus
The BC Government will issue funds to every British Columbian during the 2020 year-end holiday season: $500 for individuals, $1,000 for families.

The promised COVID-support bonus for all British Columbians requires legislation (to pass another $1.4 billion in COVID economic relief spending) before it can be rolled out. That’s $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families. “We are targeting Christmas, of course,” said Horgan.

The $1,000 family payout will be set for a household income of under $125,000, with a sliding scale for families earning up to $175,000.

The money will come possibly December 24 or January 5, as per two dates that Horgan mentioned this morning. The funds will be distributed by the Ministry of Finance by direct deposit into people’s bank accounts.

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