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'No likely end in sight': Horgan extends state of emergency to longest in B.C. history
VICTORIA -- B.C. Premier John Horgan announced that the province’s state of emergency would be extended by another two weeks Wednesday, making it the longest emergency in the province's history.
The premier said there was “no likely end in sight” to the state of emergency which was first declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 18.
Horgan said that he was “excited about the future” of B.C., as the province begins to ease restrictions, but noted that “we all have to recognize that we don’t want to give up the ground we’ve made.”
Before the pandemic, the longest state of emergency took place in 2017, when wildfires prompted an emergency declaration that lasted 10 weeks.
Horgan added that politics would resume in B.C.’s legislature in Victoria next month.
The premier said the many members of legislature would return to the building starting June 22, though some would continue to attend meetings virtually.
With disheartening reports of poor conditions in care homes in Ontario recently, Horgan said that he had confidence in B.C.’s health-care system.
“I can say with great certainty that the providers are giving the best care they can under extraordinary circumstances.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix cited measures like restricting health-care workers to single care homes and temporary increases to health-care worker wages as steps that the province has taken to ensure that facilities are being taken care of.
Meanwhile, B.C. has worked to improve the amount of time that each resident receives with a doctor.
Dix also expressed “extraordinary appreciation” for frontline health-care workers amid the pandemic.
With B.C. rolling out guidelines for safe economic reopening, the premier touched on the possible return of the NHL and film industry in the province.
Horgan said that B.C. would welcome both industries into the province in the future, so long as everyone abided by federal and provincial health guidelines.
Those guidelines include a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon entering the country.
“We worked very hard to make sure those rules were enforced not just in B.C. but across the country,” he said.
“If you have to spend two weeks in self-isolation, Vancouver isn’t a bad place to it, Vancouver Island isn’t a bad place to do it,” he said.
Horgan stressed that B.C. would not be altering its health restrictions to allow for these industries to return.
He added that the NHL is not looking to return to its season until mid-July, at which point health guidelines may have changed.
“Every day brings new challenges and every day brings new opportunities,” he said.
Locally, the premier says that he hopes businesses will rehire staff as soon as they are able to.
“I’m counting on businesses who were successful with their workforce to bring their workforce back as soon as possible,” he said.
Just two weeks into the second phase of B.C.’s restart plan, Horgan says that the provincial government is looking to see how comfortable British Columbians are with re-entering the community, as longer-term plans are being developed.