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

Honda driver may be key witness to Langley crash: RCMP

Police are hoping to find the driver of what appears to be a grey Honda Civic

VIDEO: Police watchdog recommends charges against off-duty officer involved in Langley crash

An off-duty officer was involved in a Langley crash last year that sent a motorcyclist to hospital

Downtown Langley eateries pull together to feed hospital staff

Business association makes contribution aimed at helping hospital and restaurants

VIDEO: How a Langley small business owner ended up working six months for free

Take a close look and get references before you sign a contract, she advises other business owners

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Easter Bunny not a COVID-19 carrier, allowed to do drop offs

World Health Organization grants permission to Bunny as he cannot transfer the virus

COVID-19 world update: 1,000 cases hit U.S. military; Good news in Spain, Portugal

Comprehensive collection of coronavirus news from around the world

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open this week

Most Read