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

Port McNeill curling club will be getting a brand new paint job, thanks to residents

‘The generosity of this community never ceases to amaze me!’

Vancouver Island grizzlies: moving in, or just passing through?

Lack of data makes seeming increase in grizzly sightings on the North Island an open question

VIDEO: A young Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

North Island students are back in class, sitting six-feet apart

School District 85 schools reopened June 1 for students who want to come in person

Universal basic income is a good thing

‘I’ve always loved change, so I’m rooting for a different way of life altogether’

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Considerations made to keep Island community’s drive-by birthday celebrations going

Trucks will tone it down or not use horns at all to bring some joy to kids and older folks

RCMP, coroner investigate ‘unexpected deaths’ on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

Summer tubing ban on Cowichan River lifted

The Tube Shack opening on June 27

North Island College students printing safety gear

Industrial automation students use program smarts to help others

Most Read