'I’m very confident in my team': Horgan promises new plan for B.C.'s homeless amid pandemic
VICTORIA -- B.C. Premier John Horgan says that the provincial government will announce new plans to shelter the province’s homeless population amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Horgan told CTV News Vancouver Island Monday that Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson would be making announcements on the province’s plans by the end of the week.
“I’m optimistic that we will have something to say by the end of the week and I think that the people of Victoria and people who are concerned about the Downtown Eastside [in Vancouver] will be pleased by the direction,” he said.
The B.C. premier said that he was impressed by the efforts of British Columbians to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
“My sense is that British Columbians are ahead of other Canadians in this regard,” he said. “We listened to Dr. Henry early on and we’ve been listening ever since.”
While some B.C. communities continue to call for stricter travel regulations, Horgan said that he was confident that the vast majority of British Columbians were staying home when possible.
“The issues about how many people come to the island or come to other parts of British Columbia is a real concern and we’re monitoring that very closely,” he said.
“But a 91 per cent reduction in ferry traffic tells me that the vast majority of people aren’t travelling to Vancouver Island and I think that the nine per cent that are still using our ferry service are doing it for essential [trips].”
Horgan has received some criticism for taking a backseat approach to the coronavirus pandemic when compared to other Canadian premiers.
Horgan said that the criticisms are “a debatable point” but added that he had confidence in the province’s many ministers.
“I’m very confident in my team,” he said. “I’ve got extraordinary people doing extraordinary tasks right now.”
“People are so impressed by Dr. Henry, so impressed by [Health Minister] Adrian Dix,” he said.
With B.C. beginning to show signs of flattening the curve of COVID-19 transmission, health authorities say they are looking into possibly easing health restrictions as early as mid-May.
Horgan said that any easing of restrictions would come from the recommendations of the provincial health officer.
The province’s top doctor has said that restrictions will only be eased if COVID-19 cases continue to decline in the coming weeks.
Moving forward, Horgan says that the province is working on plans to help B.C.’s economy recover once the health crisis stabilizes.
“It is important that the public know that we are working on the recovery plan and we have been since day one,” he said.
For now, the premier is hoping that all British Columbians will continue to follow provincial health orders.
“I think [everyone] understands that normal isn’t happening any time soon,” he said.
“We’ve been transported to a place that’s unfamiliar to all of us, and all of us together will figure out a way forward.”