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

Berwick ‘silly walks’ to raise money during virtual walk for Alzheimer’s

A total of $2,200 raised via Oceanside IG Wealth Management event

RCMP arrest suspect after attempted break-and-enter in Parksville

Resident provides description, cops nab 46-year-old man

PQBeat: Qualicum Beach musician, lawyer Phil Dwyer

Juno Award winner talks music legends, ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ and more

VIDEO: A 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

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

COVID-19 birthday drive-by celebrations snuffed out in Island community

Bylaw officer visit with threats of a fine mean parade trucks taken off the road

Incoming: Income tax deadlines arrive

2019 individual tax returns are due June 1, June 15 for self-employed individuals

Vancouver Island Regional Libraries to offer ‘takeout’ style services

VIRL will offer the service on a branch-by-branch basis

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Most Read