B.C. Finance Minister Carole James presents her budget in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 18, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. legislature to reopen with fewer MLAs to tackle COVID-19

Province will dip into deficit due to pandemic, Carole James says

The B.C. government’s billion-dollar contingency fund and more will be needed to get B.C. through the COVID-19 crisis, Finance Minister Carole James says.

James said Tuesday she expects B.C. to fall into deficit as she works with the federal government on a relief package for people who lose employment due to the global coronavirus pandemic. She is waiting for the federal government to decide if it will expand its Employment Insurance program to cover self-employed people and contractors who temporarily lose their jobs.

Premier John Horgan said the B.C. legislature will resume operation next week, with the first priority to amend the Employment Standards Act so people are not laid off if they have to stay home due to potential virus exposure.

The legislature will have a quorum but not all 87 MLAs will be returning to Victoria to debate bills, Horgan said.

“When I hear the top three things that are on people’s minds across the province, it inevitably comes down to, ‘will I continue to receive a paycheque, is my job secure, can I pay my rent, is my business going to get through this?’” Horgan said.

RELATED: B.C. to suspend K-12 schools due to COVID-19

RELATED: New phone lines, online self-isolation guide for B.C.

The current B.C. budget has about $1 billion in contingency funds, and the next budget starting April 1 has similar provisions, but those will likely not be enough for this situation, she said.

“It is likely we will have a deficit,” James said. “There’s no question about that, but the specifics and the numbers, it’s just too early. It’s changing every day.”

James said she has been meeting with the retail industry, and there is no reason for overstocking supplies as public gatherings and businesses reduce or close to prevent infection.


@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

Surrey RCMP not seeing ‘significant loss’ in ranks because of COVID-19

Surrey Mounties say they have a good tracking system to keep tabs on police officers experiencing an illness

Supreme Court upholds White Rock council decision on Lady Alexandra development

Planned 12-storey highrise on lower Johnston Road was stalled in 2018

‘Potentially life-threatening’ injuries in South Surrey crash

152 Street closed in both directions between Colebrook Road and 40 Avenue

No final high school game for Surrey all-stars; six scholarship winners named

COVID-19 forces cancellation of all-star games for boys and girls at Enver Creek gym April 3

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

UPDATE: 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC heart surgery patient rarely leaves home

James Jepson is especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Most Read