Home Government Government of BC Premier Horgan addresses all of BC about COVID-19: we are in this...

Premier Horgan addresses all of BC about COVID-19: we are in this together

"Getting help in the hands of the people who need it most"| "Tonight I'm asking you to recommit." ~ Premier John Horgan in his televised address on March 31, 2020

Tuesday March 31, 2020 ~ BC

by Mary Brooke, editor ~ West Shore Voice News

BC Premier John Horgan addressed British Columbians this evening on live TV and various social media networks about the on-going and rapidly unfolding provincial response to COVID-19.

The fact that mid-way into the 6 o’clock news ‘the province stopped’ for just over six-and-a-half minutes to hear the Premier’s words was significant. It speaks to the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic that is “probably the biggest challenge our province has ever faced”, as John Horgan put it, broadcasting from his office at the legislature.

The prime time announcement at 6:15 pm PDT this evening Tuesday March 31 was riveting, with the Premier saying at one point that the pandemic is “downright scary”.

He began his address with acknowledgement to doctors, nurses, all health care workers and first responders and repeated his thanks to those frontline workers who are “moving heaven and earth” to take care of people who are ill with the infectious coronavirus disease for which there is presently no treatment, cure or vaccine. The best guess of public health officials is that a vaccine could possibly be ready by autumn of 2021.

A key point in the Premier’s address was to say that the BC government has formally extended the provincial state of emergency to support the province-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, through to the end of the day on April 14, 2020. “The next 14 days are critically important in our province’s unprecedented fight against COVID-19. What we do today will affect what our doctors, nurses and first responders face in the days and weeks ahead,” said Premier John Horgan.

Using the extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has issued a series of orders to ensure a coordinated response to COVID-19 across all levels of government. Through these orders, the Province is taking an active role in coordinating the supply chain for essential goods and services, supporting the enforcement of the provincial health officer’s orders, and prohibiting the secondary selling of essential goods and supplies.

“There are early signs that our actions are making a difference, but we can’t stop now,” said Horgan, reinforcing the messaging of the BC Health Minister, the Public Safety Minister, and the all-of-government approach to follow the directions of the Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry.

hand washing
Proper hand washing technique.

“Stay home as much as you can,” he repeated. “When you’re outside of your home, stay at least two metres away from others. If you need to go to work, please practice physical distancing with your colleagues. Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds. And don’t gather in large groups.”

“We all need to take this very seriously. These are not suggestions, they’re the law. As Dr Henry says, we need 100% commitment from everyone, to get this done,” the Premier said emphatically.

He asked British Columbians “to stay with us”. He added again: “We need to make sure that though this is not going to be easy, it’s not forever,” asking that everyone do their part.

The Premier thanked “every essential worker that is on shift right now”. From transit and ferry workers, to long haul truckers, dock workers, and delivery drivers — the people who are keeping BC moving, he thanked them all. He continued by thanking grocery store workers, attendants at gas stations, workers at pharmacies and at child care centers. “Day in and day out, your work secures the essential goods and services British Columbians count on.”

“I want to speak directly to everyone working in our health care system. You are moving heaven and earth to help people who are sick. And we know you’re stressed. We know you’re exhausted. We know you’re being pushed to the very limit. We know you’re putting yourself in harm’s way, to keep others safe. And for that you have our deepest gratitude,” said Premier Horgan with all sincerity.

applause for health care workers, COVID-19, March 31 2020
Applause in the neighbourhood for health care workers, and hearts displayed in windows, during COVID-19 on March 31, 2020 at 7 pm province-wide. [West Shore Voice News / Mary Brooke]

“I want to thank all of you who are doing your part by staying at home,” said Horgan. “You may not feel like it in your living room, but everyone in BC is pulling together,” he said, asking everyone to go outside on their balcony or front porch to bang pots at 7 pm this evening to show their thanks to health care workers.

“It’s our small way of saying ‘we’re in this with you’,” he said. “BC has your back as this pandemic continues.”

“And we have a plan, so our hospitals have capacity and you have support. We are leaving no stone unturned as we gather the personal protective equipment you need to stay safe,” Horgan continued.

BC Public Safety Minister and Attorney General, state of emergency, March 18 2020
BC Public Safety Minister and Attorney General Mike Farnworth declared a state of emergency on March 18, 2020 in Vancouver [screenshot – CTV News]

Horgan said that BC “are not the only people on the planet looking for this equipment” said Horgan, referring to the increasingly dire need for the personal protective equipment needed by health care workers such as N95 face masks, face shields, protective gowns and gloves.

And with that, the Premier rolled out that additional plank of the province’s State of Emergency that was declared by Public Safety Minister and Attorney General Mike Farnworth on Monday March 18 after Dr Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, declared a public health emergency. The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from BC’s health and emergency management officials.

Starting tomorrow (April 1) the government will partner with business and BC’s tech sector to connect BC companies to health care centres in need of supplies. Horgan itemized hand sanitizers “being made right now by local distilleries” and reusable medical garments designed by outdoor clothing companies to keep health care workers safe.

Premier John Horgan, COVID-19, March 31 2020
Premier John Horgan addressed British Columbians on TV, radio and social media from his office at the BC Legislature on Tuesday evening March 31, 2020 about the challenges of COVID-19. [screenshot]

“Finally tonight, I want to speak to the people who are feeling unsafe, who can’t make rent this month or pay their mortgage,” said Horgan. Acknowledging that people have lost jobs and wages: “I can’t begin to imagine the stress and anxiety you’re feeling. This is a very difficult time.”

“If you’ve been affected by COVID-19 and are struggling to make ends meet, BC is offering you help,” said Horgan who has led his NDP government (with the support of the BC Greens) since July 2017 with a bent to helping people in many disadvantaged sectors of the province’s economy and society.

He itemized the freezing of rent, putting a stop to evictions, and bringing in a monthly benefit of up to $500 to help people pay rent.

“We created a BC emergency benefit which will give you another $1,000 in direct financial support if you’ve lost your income,” he was relieved to say. “Our support programs are designed to enhance those already announced by the Prime Minister.” The federal government has introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which will pay out $2,000 per month for four months to people who apply.

“In times like these we must put partisanship and regional differences to one side,” said Horgan. He mentioned how provinces are working together and called this “a time of unprecedented cooperation”.

“And it’s only the beginning. We’ll be taking further action in the days and weeks ahead,” Horgan said about two-thirds the way into his speech that he delivered with a tone of confident urgency, but clearly emotionally impacted by the far-reaching impact of the pandemic into the lives of everyone in the province that he embraces in its many facets so deeply.

Without offering any details, Horgan said: “When the time comes, we’ll be asking all British Columbians to apply their skills to drive BC’s recovery.”

“COVID-19 may be the biggest challenge our province has ever faced,” said Premier Horgan. And with those simple but powerful words stated, he added:

“So tonight, I’m extending BC’s state of emergency, so we can continue taking measures to keep people safe. As I watch what’s happening around the world right now, it is unsettling and downright scary,” the Premier admitted.

heart in window, COVID-19, health care worker support
Heart displayed high up in the neighbourhood for the support of health care workers during COVID-19 [West Shore Voice News]

“We don’t have all the answers, but we do have hope. Hope that the steps we have taken are working. Hope that together we can prevent the worst case scenario. Hope will carry us through this crisis as a community and as a province,” John Horgan expressed.

With reference to the order in BC that people must self-isolate and practice physical distancing, Horgan said: “We may be separated but we are not alone. I’m optimistic about our recovery because I’m optimistic about this province and our future together. We will get through this, because of the strength of our people and our communities. We’re in this together. People from every corner of the province from every region.”

“Tonight I’m asking you to recommit. Recommit to our health care workers and to each other. Do your part. Stay home. Stay safe. And we’ll bend this curve together. Thank you, and good night.”

The address can be re-watched on Facebook at www.facebook.com/johnhorganbc/